In sixteenth-century Japan, with the pandemonium of civil wars a looming presence in their lives, the potter Genjuro and his wife long to be "rich and safe," respectively. But artistic vanity draws Genjuro into the paradisiacal realm of a phantom enchantress. In a parallel tale, Genjuro's brother-in-law Tobei, out for military glory, achieves a general's rank for his fraudulent exploits-another acrid apparition. In Ugetsu, the all-too-real and the supernatural move steadily toward each other; a boat ride on foggy waters foreshadows the horizontal unity Mizoguchi will give his two worlds. For, just as his images overflow with life-characters forever running off toward more life outside the frame-so this reality flows into the phantom universe as well. Mizoguchi builds an eerie netherworld entirely out of what he is given in this one: shadows and lighting, decor and texture, and the graceful chicanery of human desire.

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