“I am nothing but a spectacle of an ill-fated woman.”
A lady-in-waiting (Kinuyo Tanaka) has an affair with a lower-ranking page (Toshiro Mifune), leading to the exile of her entire family. As she struggles to help make ends meet, Oharu is eventually reduced to prostitution and begging.
- Downward Spiral
- Feminism and Women’s Issues
- Flashback Films
- Japanese Films
- Kenzi Mizoguchi Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, the central character in this “exquisitely shot” Kenzi Mizoguchi film — which offers a “shocking view of the sad role women have played in Japan” — may very well be the epitome of “the victimization of women throughout history”. Indeed, Oharu is literally the pawn of others’ needs and desires, exploited by men (and her family), then “tossed aside”. Through heart-rending flashbacks (Oharu looks back on her own downward spiral) we’re forced to watch “one bad thing after another happen to Oharu” — it’s a tough story to stomach, but the film’s undeniable “poetic quality” makes it a haunting, valuable experience.
- Kinuyo Tanaka’s sympathetic portrayal as the tragic Oharu
- Luminous b&w cinematography
- A powerful depiction of social injustice in medieval Japan
Yes. This is one of Mizoguchi’s most affecting films, and certainly a must-see classic of Japanese cinema.