Kenji Mizoguchi: A Cinema of Totality

6/19/14 to 8/29/14

Between the early 1920s and the year of his death, Kenji Mizoguchi (1898–1956) made more than seventy-five films, marked by elegant long takes and sequence shots and a thematic concern with the subjugation of women. This summer, we are delighted to screen sixteen of his films, many of them rarely seen.

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Past Films

  • Street of Shame

    • Friday, August 29 7pm

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1956). (Akasen chitai). Mizoguchi's last film brought together some of Japan's greatest actresses-including Machiko Kyo and Ayako Wakao-to dramatize the struggles and dreams of five prostitutes in Tokyo's red-light district. “The best of all films examining the problems of women in postwar Japan” (Donald Richie). (86 mins)

  • Princess Yang Kwei-Fei

    • Friday, August 22 8:45 pm

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1955). (Yokihi). Imported Print! Part fairy tale, part ghost story, Princess Yang Kwei-fei relates the legend of an eighth-century Chinese emperor who falls in love with a servant girl (Machiko Kyo) and makes her his consort. “One of the most beautiful films ever to treat beauty as a subject” (Andrew Sarris). (98 mins)

  • Sansho the Bailiff

    • Sunday, August 17 7pm

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1954). (Sansho dayu). BAM/PFA Collection Print! Bring all your senses and your handkerchief to this haunting tale of a family (led by Kinuyo Tanaka) victimized by the cruel practices of feudal Japan, “developed with intuition, cunning, and an overarching sense of tragedy” (SF Weekly). (126 mins)

  • The Taira Clan Saga

    • Thursday, August 14 7pm

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1955). (Shin heike monogatari). Imported Print! In twelfth-century Kyoto, during a power struggle between the landed gentry and the monastic forces, a young man of the military class seizes power and changes the course of Japanese history. Cult actor Raizo Ichikawa stars in this, one of Mizoguchi's most Shakespearean tales. (108 mins)

  • A Woman of Rumor

    • Friday, August 1 7pm

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1954). (Uwasa no onna). Imported Print! Kinuyo Tanaka stars as the madam of a brothel who finds herself competing with her own daughter for the affections of a young doctor. “Has the feeling of late Ford or Buñuel, of a director who has arrived at the most subtly exquisite, minimalist ways of expressing his deepest, most complex sentiments” (Andrew Sarris). (83 mins)

  • Crucified Lovers: A Story from Chikamatsu

    • Wednesday, July 30 7pm

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1954). (Chikamatsu monogatari). Imported Print! A merchant's wife and her husband's servant embark on a doomed love affair in this torrid tale of forbidden romance. Mizoguchi at his most painterly and romantic. (102 mins)

  • A Geisha

    • Friday, July 25 7pm

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1953). (Gion bayashi). Imported Print! A sixteen-year-old Ayako Wakao became a star in Mizoguchi's update of his earlier Sisters of the Gion, now set-significantly-against the occupied Japan of 1953. It is the story of the friendship of an older geisha and her teenage protégée. (85 mins)

  • Miss Oyu

    • Friday, July 18 7pm

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1951). (Oyu-sama). Imported Print! Kinuyo Tanaka stars in this contemplative and ambiguous account of a love triangle, based on a story by Junichiro Tanizaki and translated through Mizoguchi's use of the long, mobile shot infused with emotion. “An exceptionally poignant melodrama” (Andrew Sarris). (95 mins)

  • The Life of Oharu

    • Friday, July 11 7:30pm

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1952). (Saikaku ichidai onna). This story of a noblewoman's fall from grace is “perhaps the finest film made in any country about the oppression of women” (Joan Mellen). “One of the ten greatest films in the history of cinema” (Derek Malcolm). With Kinuyo Tanaka. (136 mins)

  • My Love Has Been Burning

    • Wednesday, July 9 7:00 pm

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1949). (Waga koi wamoenu). In the 1880s, a crucial period in the modernization of Japan, a determined young woman (Kinuyo Tanaka) leaves home to become involved in the political turmoil in Tokyo. (96 mins)

  • Utamaro and His Five Women

    • Saturday, July 5 6:30pm

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1946). (Utamaro omeguru gonin no onna). This biography of the legendary eighteenth-century ukiyo-e artist Utamaro is “the closest Mizoguchi came to an autobiographical statement about the making of art” (Phillip Lopate). (93 mins)

  • The 47 Ronin, Parts I & II

    • Saturday, June 28 6pm

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1941/1942). (Genroku Chushingura). Imported Print! Mizoguchi tackles one of Japan's most enduring tales-the vengeance of forty-seven warriors following their lord's forced hara-kiri-in this lavishly budgeted epic, filmed during WWII. Special admission prices apply. (219 mins, with a 15-minute intermission between parts I and II)

  • The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums

    • Thursday, June 26 7pm

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1939). (Zangiku monogatari). Imported Print! Amid the clamorous and rigorous world of kabuki, a would-be actor owes his artistic development to his lover's encouragement and ultimate self-sacrifice. (142 mins)

  • Sisters of the Gion

    • Saturday, June 21 6:30pm

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1936). (Gion no shimai). In this famous melodrama, Mizoguchi strips away the romantic veneer of the geisha ideal in this unsentimental portrait of the sex business as a losing proposition for both the tradition-bound geisha and the modern girl alike. “A masterpiece” (Tadao Sato). (69 mins)

  • Osaka Elegy

    • Saturday, June 21 8pm

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1936). (Naniwa hika). Imported Print! In a 1936 Osaka sparkling with the seductive allure of capitalism, Mizoguchi depicts the humiliations of a switchboard operator who adapts to the times. Isuzu Yamada stars in “Mizoguchi's most brilliant pre-war film” (Joan Mellen). (72 mins)

  • Ugetsu

    • Thursday, June 19 7 pm

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1953). (Ugetsu monogatari). BAM/PFA Collection Print! Consistently named as one of the best films ever made, Mizoguchi's ethereal fable crafts the darkest shadows from the darkest human desires. In sixteenth-century Japan, a potter has his head turned by a phantom enchantress, with predictable results. (96 mins)