Ugetsu (Ugetsu monogatari)

Critics Consensus

With its thought-provoking themes, rich atmosphere, and brilliant direction, Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugetsu monogatari is a towering classic of world cinema.



Total Count: 27


Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,856
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Movie Info

Presented in a manner as eerie as it is heartbreaking, this film is a gorgeous supernatural fable about the folly of men with dreams larger than their abilities and their women who suffer as a result. Genjuro (Masuyaki Mori) is a potter who longs for wealth and luxury, while Tobei (Sakae Ozawa), a farmer, dreams of the glories of the samurai to the point of ignoring his wife. Though a war rages around them, they venture to town to sell their wares. Genjuro becomes bewitched by a beautiful though vengeful ghost (Machiko Kyo), while his wife is murdered by a soldier; Tobei becomes a noted warrior, while his wife descends into prostitution after being raped while searching for her husband. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi

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Machiko Kyo
as Lady Wakasa
Masayuki Mori
as Genjuro Pottery Maker
Kinuyo Tanaka
as Miyagi Genjuro's Wife
Sakae Ozawa
as Tobei Genjuro's Brotherin-Law
Mitsuko Mito
as Ohama Tobei's Wife
Ryosuke Kagawa
as Village master
Sugisaku Aoyama
as Old Priest
Shozo Nanbu
as Shinto Priest
Kichijiro Ueda
as Shop Owner
Mitsusaburô Ramon
as Captain of Tamba Soldiers
Kichijiro Tsuchida
as Silk Merchant
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Critic Reviews for Ugetsu (Ugetsu monogatari)

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (27)

Audience Reviews for Ugetsu (Ugetsu monogatari)

  • Jul 28, 2017
    Director Kenji Mizoguchi's film is based on the 18th century supernatural stories in the Ugetsu Monogatari (Tales of Moonlight and Rain), and takes place during civil warfare in 16th century Japan. Despite the concerns of his wife, a potter seeks to take risks and profit from the chaos of war. His friend has the desperate ambition to become a samurai, despite not being of the right class or even possessing the armor necessary. It's this desire for money and fame, as opposed to being cautious and content, that will prove to be the men's undoing. The potter will meet a young woman from a market who turns out to be an alluring phantom, a Japanese Circe of sorts, and so the desire for sensual pleasure is added to these temptations. Machiko Kyo plays Lady Wakasa, the temptress, and it's interesting as her true nature and emotions are gradually revealed. Unfortunately the role of the would-be samurai is comically overacted by Eitaro Ozawa, which took away from my enjoyment. There are some beautiful shots, such as a boat slowly disappearing into the mist and fog, as well as great moments, such as when the samurai reunites with his wife under very different circumstances (which I won't spoil), and the film is certainly well done and worth watching. However, the story is a bit too much of a morality tale for my taste: the men put their wives at risk through the temptations of money, fame, and sex, and, well, of course bad things happen. The film clearly has a place in film history, but I find it hasn't aged as well as other classics.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 08, 2015
    Ugetsu is difficult to rate but I do rate it up on account the storytelling. The story is engaging and believable. None of the other aspects of the film stood out, but then again they were done well enough that I could get involved with the story and characters and not notice.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 29, 2011
    From the Criterion Collection, Spine No. 309. Hailed by critics as one of the greatest films ever made, Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugetsu is an undisputed masterpiece of Japanese cinema. Set in the 16th Century, A family man farmer and craftsman Genjurô travels to Nagahama to sell his wares and makes a small fortune. His neighbor Tobei that is a fool man dreams on becoming a samurai, but he can not afford to buy the necessary outfit. So starts the story of 2 different men and the rise and fall. It takes a different person to watch and enjoy not only films from the Criterion Collection, but also it takes a little bit to watch and understand a fifties movie from Japan. But once you get into these movies your hooked. Please try one and enjoy. 4 1/2 stars.
    Bruce B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 08, 2011
    Spellbinding film...the best I've seen in months. Exquisite cinematography, lighting and locations, plus an eerie story with universal themes that Westerners easily can understand. Resisting the wicked allure of money and glory? Learning to appreciate one's spouse? Equally valid in 21st-century America and 16th-century Japan. And the Japanese do ghost stories so well, besides. "Ugetsu" deserves its "masterpiece" reputation.
    Eric B Super Reviewer

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