Archive for May 21st, 2012

The Crucified Lovers (1954)

Mohei is a loyal apprentice printer for Ishun, a wealthy scroll maker who has married Osan, a woman 30 years his junior. She only married him for his money as her family was impoverished. When Osan’s brother asks for a loan and is refused, Osan goes to Mohei for help. He tells her to leave it up to him as he will find a way to get the loan. Mohei asks Ishun for his seal and puts it on a blank receipt in order to get the loan. When his co-worker tells him that what he’s doing is wrong, Mohei confesses his crime to Ishun. Ishun threatens to tell the police but a maid that Ishun is pestering constantly tells him that the loan was for her. Ishun assumes that the two are lovers and locks Mohei up in the attic. Osan thanks the maid for trying to help Mohei but she admits that Ishun has been trying to woo her. Hopng that night to catch her husband in the act, Osan decides to stay the night in the maid’s room but in comes Mohei who has escaped through the roof of the attic. He wanted to say goodbye to the maid before leaving. Osan tries to persuade Mohei into staying but both are interrupted by a shop clerk. He now thinks that both of them are having an affair! Mohei immediately escapes into the grounds of the house to hide and Ishun is angry when he hears that Osan might be having an affair. As Osan goes outside, she sees Mohei and both decide to escape and commit suicide as Ishun has alerted the police. Both change their minds however when Mohei admits that he loves Osan. They decide to go on the run but with the police looking for them all over the country, how much longer can they manage to hide before they are eventually caught?

Kenji Mizoguchi is a master storyteller and The Crucified Lovers is yet another superb movie directed by him. I’ve yet to be disappointed in any of his movies I’ve seen so far. This is a doomed romance tale about a couple that crosses 2 class boundaries – the wife of a rich husband falling for a lowly apprentice printer. It’s an evocative and haunting portrait on the tragedy of love, duty, honour, and conformity in a repressive society. A near flawless movie with an excellent storyline, beautiful sets, great acting and some exquisite camera work especially the image of a boat moored alongside a cabin on the misty shores of Lake Biwa. The characters and what happens to them have a familiar ring that’s well associated with Mizoguchi, with good-hearted people falling victim to ill fortune and the self-centred whims of those in positions of authority, and in the feeling that from even the early scenes that the story is unlikely to end well for anyone. The potential fate that hangs over the fleeing Mohei and Osan is shown early on when the wife of a samurai and her lover are paraded through the streets and publicly crucified, and even Ishun is far from safe as scheming business rival Isan works to use the news of Osan’s supposed adultery to unseat his position of local power and influence. Mizoguchi adeptly starts to mount the tension as the net begins to close in on Mohei and Osan. Kazuo Hasegawa and Kyoko Kagawa are brilliant as their characters and we do feel some sympathy for them as their fate is sealed by their growing feelings towards each other.

The Crucified Lovers is a gripping tale. It might not be Mizoguchi’s best but it does come very close. Highly recommended and a must-see.

No trailer but I did find this clip.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »