Zangiku monogatari (The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums) (1979)
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Critic Reviews for Zangiku monogatari (The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums)
I was struck not just by newly visible detail in the frame itself, but also the spectacularly effective nuances of performance from the entire cast, particularly the leads.
Throughout his career, Mizoguchi depicted the moral crisis of Japan's subjugation of women; here, he raises it to the most exalted realms of tragedy.
The story, the effective acting, and the period-specific recreations of Kabuki would be enough for most films, but this one has Mizoguchi behind the camera, applying his rigorous formalism.
Mizoguchi's harmonious yet unexpected compositions, his andante tempo and long takes, and his pellucid blocking produce sequences that resonate throughout the movie, often with material as mundane as the slicing of a watermelon.
One of the most visually beautiful black-and-white films ever made, this cinematic ode to the glory of Kabuki somehow falls short on an emotional level.
Audience Reviews for Zangiku monogatari (The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums)
It's the story highlighting the problems with traditional social norms and the cost it takes to overcome them. The conclusion is at best bittersweet if not heartbreaking.
I loved seeing the street/ outdoor city scenes from Japan in the late 30's. The Kabuki theater scenes were not very interesting to these western eyes however. This is a rather long and slow-moving story of a couple who marry against the wishes of the upperclass groom's parents and their resultant struggles as well as his struggles to become a good stage actor. I watched this via a streaming service that starts with an H. This film may have been an inspiration for the director Ozu, who made similar sorts of family dramas in the 40s and 50s.
This is a decent movie, but I admit to being baffled by its inclusion in discussions of Mizoguchi's best work, let alone the greatest films of all-time.
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