THE LIFE OF OHARU
SAIKAKU ICHIDAI ONNA
1952, Janus Films, 137 min, Japan, Dir: Kenji Mizoguchi

Based on one of Japan’s first novels, the 17th-century The Woman Who Loved Love by Saikaku Ihara. Kinuyo Tanaka is Oharu, a samurai’s daughter expelled from her station as a lady-in-waiting at the Imperial Palace for falling in love with a man below her rank. Driven into exile along with her parents, she soon resorts to being a kept woman, then finally a common prostitute. Mizoguchi expertly walks a tightrope, delivering an unflinching examination of a sensitive woman’s emotional brutalization without manipulative sentimentality. Another masterwork. With Ichiro Sugai and Toshiro Mifune.


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