Zangiku monogatari (The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums) (1979)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Story of the Late Chrysanthemum (Zangiku monogatari) was the only film made in 1939 by the astonishingly prolific Japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi). The plot, based on an ancient legend, concerns the son of a renowned Kabuki actor. When the son falls in love with a servant girl, his father violently opposes the union. This, coupled with several impulsive decisions by the younger people, eventually results in tragedy. Like many of Mizoguchi's best works, this dwells upon the adverse results stemming from class consciousness and the depersonalization of women. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Criterion Collection

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Shôtarô Hanayagi
as Kikunosuke Onoue
Gonjurô Kawarazaki
as Kikugoro Onoue
Kôkichi Takada
as Fukusuke Nakamura
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Critic Reviews for Zangiku monogatari (The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums)

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (2)

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.

Full Review… | December 27, 2015
New York Times
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | December 14, 2015
New Yorker
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | September 7, 2016
Groucho Reviews

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.

Full Review… | January 2, 2016
Film Comment Magazine

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.

Full Review… | December 23, 2015
Film Journal International

With more said by showing less, operatic heartbreak and sentimentality and anger are pictured in formal precision, not a moment or scene or actor out of place.

Full Review… | December 21, 2015
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

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.

Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson

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.

George Phillips
George Phillips

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.

Greg Wood
Greg Wood

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