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(Review originally written at 18 September 2008)

This is one real powerful and effectively directed movie, that also is fine looking and features some fine acting performances.

It's a quite long movie, which is not really due to its story but more in the way its sequences are handled. Director Kenji Mizoguchi maintains a very slow pace with many long static scenes in it, in which the camera doesn't move and there are no in between cuts. It does work out well though for the movie. It makes the movie visually beautiful to look at but also makes the story more powerful. It's a real fine directed movie, for which the director can not be praised enough. He handles the movie and its story really well and effectively.

The story features some typical and important Japanese themes in it, such as honor and family. Fans of Japanese cinema or Japanese culture will surely get a blast out of this movie. The entire story is set in the Japan, or Tokyo to be precise, of 1885. This means that the movie is also being filled by some wonderful looking sets and costumes.

It's also a pretty well acted movie. Normally I'm not a too big fan of acting in Asian movies but this movie feature some rather realistic performance, that don't ever go over-the-top, which also is a real accomplishment for a '30's movie in general.

Mostly due to its directing approach the movie works out so well and effectively. Because lets be honest, the story itself is actually quite simple and also not something that hasn't done before in any way. It's the reason why director Kenji Mizoguchi is still so loved and appreciated by many, even now, well over 50 years after his death. The themes are all handled well and despite being not too original, it all works out still well and refreshing.

But it's not just a style for everybody though. I can understand that some people might not like watching this movie, since it's pace is so slow and overall cinematic style is so outdated now days. Nevertheless cinematic lovers, or just fans of Japanese cinema, should be able to really appreciate this movie.

9/10

About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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