The Princess Yang Kwei Fei (Y˘kihi) (1955)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
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as Princess Yang
as Emperor Xuan Zong
as Li Lin-fu
as Yang Kuo-chung
as Kao Li-hsi
as Princess Yen-chun
as Yang Hsien
as An Lushan
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Mizoguchi hasn't failed me yet. I am still compelled even by this minor masterpiece. I am not sure though if he is as good a colorist as his other colleagues. Not that it's not good but it doesn't seem to strike me as much as Kurosawa's or Ozu's color films. The balance of color is really impressive although it's not emphasized as much. It looks too theatrical as opposed a film. However, I am not complaining. Mizoguchi's sense of placement and lightning has always been one of his greatest strengths and it's equally impressive. Princess Yang Kwei Fei is another story concerned about women. Nothing surprising here. The woman ends being the only character with any sense of reasoning, logic, honor amidst the chaos of men. She acknowledges her place in the world Mizoguchi has created and acts like it with pride and altruism.
It's been quite a while since I watched any Mizoguchi. And this one is quite a novelty: it's in color, one of only two color films in his oeuvre. And I might be mistaken, but I think it's only one in a non-Japanese setting...it's based on a Chinese legend, kind of a Cinderella story with a tragic twist. It's also less concerned about the suffering of women than is usual for Mizoguchi, and is more about the perils of feudalism. The color is lovely, but I find it incongruous with Mizoguchi's style, and seems to undermine the seriousness of the proceedings (it also highlights the obvious cheapness of the sets). It's far from his best work, but it's satisfying enough. Machiko Kyo is wonderful as always, and her relationship with Masayuki Mori (trivia note: the two also played the couple in Rashomon) is quite touching.
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