New prints of several films by Kenji Mizoguchi (1898–1956) offer us the opportunity to study his many facets in a few essential gems from different periods of his career. Mizoguchi's films are a testament to a precise but ravishing beauty, a chilling obsession with desire, and an artist's lifelong concern for social justice. If he was more of an aesthete than his contemporary Naruse, whose work we recently explored, it does not lessen his focus on the victimization of women as the signifying social evil. As we saw in last fall's series Taisho Chic on Screen, Mizoguchi's mid-1930s films Sisters of the Gion and Osaka Elegy represented the emergence of realism and social awareness in Japanese cinema on the eve of Japan's invasion of China. Such social themes also were embedded in the period dramas for which he would become known: Ugetsu has links to the upheaval of postwar Japan as much as to Noh drama in its evocation of the dead returning to voice their grief, also a theme of Sansho the Bailiff. If you look for happy endings, look elsewhere, but our selection of films offers the joy of tracing Mizoguchi's style, in particular his signature long takes and tracking shots that move us seamlessly from one scene to the next, like a Japanese picture scroll expressed in motion.