Ugetsu (1953)

UGETSU (1953)
Article #1073 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-21-2004
Posting Date: 7-20-2004
Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi
Featuring Masayuki Mori, Machiko Kyo, Kinuyo Tanaka

Two ambitious men, one a potter hoping to make his fortune, the other his partner hoping to become a samurai, find themselves in a position to realize their ambitions, but they end up deserting their wives in the process.

At heart this Japanese drama about greed and ambition has a very simple moral lesson about how trying to attain your ambitions can cause you to lose what you already have, and you can pretty much see the lesson coming early on. It’s the attention to detail, the emotional resonance, and the skill of the actors and the director that bring this story to life, and make it a truly wonderful movie. The fantastic aspects don’t pop up until the halfway point, and I don’t think I’m giving too much away to say that certain characters turn out to be ghosts. There is also an eerie sequence during a boat ride where the occupants discover what they think is a ghost boat, an event that spurs the potter into making one of his major mistakes. This is definitely a moving and memorable film.

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