Poetic realism from Japan: Kenji Mizoguchi

The Japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi (1898-1956) is one of the most influential directors in film history. In addition to his poetic landscapes and his sophisticated plan sequences, it is the portraits of women - wives, courtesans and geishas - that are the main leitmotifs of Mizoguchi's work. Mizoguchi's social dramas describe the ruthless harshness of Japanese women's existence across the eras. We are exclusively showing seven of his works, freshly restored and subtitled.

Akasen Chitai - Street of Shame (1956)
Kenji Mizoguchi
Japan
86′
Five fates of women from Tokyo's brothel district in the 1950s are the focus of Kenji Mizoguchi's last film, who devoted the majority of his works to the historical and social situation of Japanese women. The theme is shaped by socio-critical commitment, human sympathy and unspeculative openness.
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Utamaro o meguru gonin no onna - Utamaro and His Five Women (1946)
Kenji Mizoguchi
Japan
95′
Utamaro, a great artist, lives to create portraits of beautiful women, and the brothels of Tokyo provide his models. A world of passion swirls around him, as the women in his life vie for lovers. And, occasionally, his art gets him into trouble. Utamaro and His Five Women is a tender, erotic, and provocative story of the difficulties and rewards of creation.
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Sansho Dayu - Sanshi the Bailiff (1954)
Kenji Mizoguchi
Japan
124′
Sansho Dayu is a film about a couple of children from a rich house at the end of the 12th century who fall into the hands of the bailiff. He owes his reputation as an exemplary feudal lord to the merciless exploitation of his slave army. Mizoguchi fluently tells this old legend of need and revenge in beautiful pictures.
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