Kenji Mizoguchi

Lowest Rated: 82% Street of Shame (1956)
Birthday: May 16, 1898
Birthplace: Not Available
Kenji Mizoguchi entered the film world as a promoter of Western novelty in Japanese cinema and exited it as an acclaimed international director who exemplified Japan at its most traditional. After The Life of Oharu and Ugetsu won prizes in successive Venice Film Festivals in the early '50s, Mizoguchi became an icon for the nascent French New Wave. His mastery of mise-en-scène was lauded by Jacques Rivette, while Jean-Luc Godard praised his metaphysics and his stylistic elegance, at the same time deriding Akira Kurosawa as a second-rate talent. Mizoguchi is still recognized as one of the 20th century's greatest filmmakers.Born in Tokyo, in 1898, Mizoguchi was the middle child of a roofer/carpenter. His family's financial situation went from modest to desperate when his erratic, dreamer father (who was the model for the heroine's father in Osaka Elegy) tried to make a killing by selling raincoats to the military during the Russo-Japanese war (1904-1905). By the time he borrowed the money, set up the factory, and produced the coats, the war was over. Not having enough money for food, Mizoguchi's older sister was put up for adoption at age 14. She was later sold to a geisha house. Mizoguchi himself was taken out of elementary school and apprenticed in a pharmacy in northern Iwate prefecture. Later, he returned to Tokyo and studied painting at the Aohashi Western Painting Research Institute. In 1922, Mizoguchi was hired as an assistant director for Osamu Wakayama at Nikkatsu Studios.The Japanese film industry was changing rapidly when Mizoguchi entered it, Kabuki-inspired movies of the 1910s were giving way to those inspired by Western films. Mizoguchi, who became a full-fledged director in 1923, quickly showed an enthusiasm for novelty and the West. One of his first films, Blood and Soul, employed the kind of exaggerated sets and makeup seen in such German Expressionist films as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari; his 1929 Metropolitan Symphony was a highpoint in the leftist tendency film genre. As his style matured, his work underwent an astonishing transformation. This former advocate of the faddish and the radical began creating finely crafted period pieces centered on downtrodden women. To be sure, Mizoguchi's metamorphosis was hastened in no small measure by growing political oppression during the 1930s. One of his few contemporary dramas during this time, Osaka Elegy, was banned by the military government in 1940. Like Mikio Naruse, Mizoguchi populated his films with marginalized women such as geishas, barmaids, and mistreated housewives. But unlike Naruse's proud, willful heroines who toil for an elusive dignity, Mizoguchi's women selflessly devote themselves to the objects of their love. Characters such as Taki in Taki no Shiraito or Otoku in Story of the Late Chrysanthemums willingly destroy themselves to enable success for their men. The Chinese maid in Empress Yang Kwei Fei molds herself into the king's vision of perfection and then calmly walks to her death to save his life. Mizoguchi's heroines blame no one during their headlong trajectory toward destruction; they seem to transcend the horrors they endure in a manner that is simply not possible in Naruse films. In his later films, Mizoguchi couched these tragic tales in a quiet lyricism that evoked the impermanence of human life. Like a traditional Chinese scroll painting that depicts unfolding human drama in the midst of an overwhelming landscape, Mizoguchi's camera lingers on the stillness of a natural setting or the passing of a moment, rather than on the machinations of plot. Individual humans seem barely consequential: they work, suffer, love, and die beneath a larger, unchanging order.In the 1950s, Mizoguchi reached his creative zenith with masterpiece after masterpiece, including The Life of Oharu, Sansho the Bailiff, Chikamatsu Monogatari, and Ugetsu, often considered one of the most beautiful films ever made. Mizoguchi died, a devout Buddhist, in 1956.

Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet Kokyo Director 2014
No Score Yet Meitô bijomaru (The Sword) Director 2014
No Score Yet Maria No Oyuki Director 2014
No Score Yet Fujiwara Yoshie No Furusato Director 2012
No Score Yet Ôsaka monogatari (Osaka Story) Screenwriter 2012
100% Osaka Elegy (Woman of Osaka) (Naniwa erejî) Director 1979
93% Zangiku monogatari (The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums) Director 1979
No Score Yet Waga koi wa moenu (Flame of My Love) (My Love Burns) Director 1979
82% Street of Shame Director 1956
No Score Yet Shin Heike Monogatari (Taira Clan Saga) (The Taira Clan) Director 1955
No Score Yet The Princess Yang Kwei Fei (Yôkihi) Director 1955
No Score Yet Tales Of The Taira Clan Director 1955
100% Chikamatsu monogatari (The Crucified Lovers) Director 1954
100% Ugetsu (Ugetsu monogatari) Director $6.7K 1954
No Score Yet Uwasa no onna (The Crucified Woman)(The Woman in the Rumor)(The Woman of Rumour) Director 1954
100% Sansho the Bailiff (Sanshô dayû) Director 1954
100% A Geisha (Gion bayashi) Producer Director 1953
100% The Life of Oharu (Saikaku ichidai onna) Screenwriter Director Producer 1952
No Score Yet Miss Oyu (Oyû-sama) Director 1951
No Score Yet The Lady of Musashino Director 1951
No Score Yet Yuki Fujin Ezu (Portrait of Madame Yuki) Director 1950
No Score Yet Women of the Night (Yoru no onnatachi) Director 1948
No Score Yet Joyû Sumako no koi (The Love of Sumako the Actress) Director 1947
100% Five Women Around Utamaro Director 1946
No Score Yet Genroku Chûshingura (The 47 Ronin) Director 1941
No Score Yet Forty-Seven Ronin - Pt. 2 Director 1941
No Score Yet Aien Kyo (The Straits of Love and Hate) Director 1937
89% Sisters of the Gion (Gion no shimai) Director 1936
No Score Yet Gubijinso Director 1935
No Score Yet The Downfall of Osen (Orizuru Osen) Director 1935
No Score Yet Taki no shiraito (Cascading White Threads) (The Water Magician) Director 1933
No Score Yet Tokyo koshin-kyoku (Tokyo March) Director 1929
No Score Yet The Song Of Home Director 1925


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