The Water Magician

Michael Mortilla has created original scores for theater, dance, and film, and regularly performs for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The Silent Society, and the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

(Taki no shiraito, a.k.a. Cascading White Threads, White Threads of the Waterfall). In this Mizoguchi film of delicate passion and crushing irony, set in the Meiji era, the actress Takako Irie (also the film's producer, and featured in several images in the Taisho Chic gallery exhibition) offers one of her most memorable creations as Taki, the eponymous "water magician" in a traveling stage show. Lonely but large-hearted, Taki is given to generosity that flies in the face of wisdom. When she inadvertently causes a young coach driver to lose his job, she insists on making amends by putting him through law school-but not before she has seduced him. Their marvelous love out of time, beside a bridge in the fog, is in studied contrast to Mizoguchi's view of the era: women sacrifice so men can act. This man will eventually sit in judgment of his benefactor. From the offstage world of the itinerant troupe to the chaos of a wagon trip caught in crazy camera, the film itself has the charm of immediacy to match Taki's impetuous humanity.

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