Ugetsu: Kenji Mizoguchi, Director
Keiko I. McDonald
Rutgers University Press, 1993 - Performing Arts - 176 pages
Ugetsu Monogatari has been widely acclaimed as a masterpiece of the Japanese cinema since the moment in 1952 when its director, Kenji Mizoguchi, won a Silver Lion award for the film at the Venice Festival. Western audiences immediately recognized the pictorial beauty of Ugetsu and the lyrical power of Mizoguchi's camera movements, but most viewers have found the film's narrative elements puzzling and unsettling. Ugetsu seems to move between two radically different worlds: the first is a world at war, conveyed with graphic realism; the second, a highly stylized world of the supernatural, filled with ghosts and apparitions. To understand why Mizoguchi chose to incorporate these disparate experiences in one film and ultimately to integrate them requires an awareness of Mizoguchi's customary themes and of cultural contexts that would be familiar to his Japanese audience.
This volume presents a complete continuity script of Ugetsu and an introductory essay by Keiko McDonald, analyzing the complex issues of Japanese culture revealed in the film. Also included are a letter from Mizoguchi to his longtime scriptwriter, the late Yoshikata Yoda; the complete texts of the two Japanese tales on which the film was based; Japanese, European and American reviews and commentaries, some appearing for the first time in English; and a filmography and bibliography.