949 A Story from Chikamatsu

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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swo17
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949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#1 Post by swo17 » Wed Aug 15, 2018 5:14 pm

A Story from Chikamatsu

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One of a string of late-career masterworks made by Kenji Mizoguchi in the early 1950s, A Story from Chikamatsu (a.k.a. The Crucified Lovers) is an exquisitely moving tale of forbidden love struggling to survive in the face of persecution. Based on a classic of eighteenth-century Japanese drama, the film traces the injustices that befall a Kyoto scroll maker's wife and his apprentice after each is unfairly accused of wrongdoing. Bound by fate in an illicit, star-crossed romance, they go on the run in search of refuge from the punishment prescribed them: death. Shot in gorgeous, painterly style by master cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa, this subtly sensuous indictment of societal oppression was heralded by Akira Kurosawa as a "great masterpiece that could only have been made by Mizoguchi."

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New interview with actor Kyoko Kagawa
Mizoguchi: The Auteur Behind the "Metteur-en-scène," a new illustrated audio essay by film scholar Dudley Andrew
• Trailer
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: An essay by film scholar Haden Guest

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#2 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:03 pm

Mizoguchi's most perfect film (says me). Mizoguchi's cast could not be better, neither could Miyagawa's cinematography.

However, it is really a(nother) tale by Saikaku (the same writer who provided the source for Life of Oharu). Saikaku published "What the Seasons Brought the Almanac Maker" in 1686 (in Five Women Who Loved Love), based on a recent true life incident. Chikamatsu wrote his bunraku play (Daikyôji Mukashi Goyomi) in 1715, based on the same incident. Mizoguchi's film draws on both sources, but contains a fair amount of the sly humor that characterized Saikaku's version (but does not seem to have been present in Chikamatsu's more purely tragic one). While Mizoguchi drained much of Saikaku's (often a bit sarcastic) humor from his (otherwise wonderful) Life Of Oharu, his Chikamatsu monogatari perfectly maintains the blend of (occasional) humor and deeply heartfelt tragedy found in Saikaku's "Almanac Maker".

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Big Ben
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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#3 Post by Big Ben » Wed Aug 15, 2018 7:08 pm

Thank you for the history Manny. I'll certainly pick this up. Certainly don't think it'll be popular with the family though.

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bottled spider
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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#4 Post by bottled spider » Wed Aug 15, 2018 7:30 pm

To second Michael, the film is somehow lighter than would seem possible from the content of the story -- less devastating at any rate than Sansho or Oharu. I enjoyed this a lot when it was screened at the Siskel a few months ago.

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DeprongMori
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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#5 Post by DeprongMori » Wed Aug 15, 2018 7:33 pm

The supplements seem pretty thin on this one. I’ll likely keep my Eureka unless the new transfer is outstanding.

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swo17
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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#6 Post by swo17 » Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:39 pm

Yes, next time Criterion, please think outside the (MoC) box: Portrait of Madame Yuki!

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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#7 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:42 pm

swo17 wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:39 pm
Yes, next time Criterion, please think outside the (MoC) box: Portrait of Madame Yuki!
I think this just may be Mizoguchi's most purely visually beautiful film. I love it despite finding the story just a wee bit problematic.

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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#8 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:44 pm

bottled spider wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 7:30 pm
To second Michael, the film is somehow lighter than would seem possible from the content of the story -- less devastating at any rate than Sansho or Oharu. I enjoyed this a lot when it was screened at the Siskel a few months ago.
Because of the comic leavening, this film has a MORE powerful impact on me than either Oharu or Sansho.

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swo17
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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#9 Post by swo17 » Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:47 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:42 pm
swo17 wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:39 pm
Yes, next time Criterion, please think outside the (MoC) box: Portrait of Madame Yuki!
I think this just may be Mizoguchi's most purely visually beautiful film. I love it despite finding the story just a wee bit problematic.
There was a story?! :shock:

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Big Ben
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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#10 Post by Big Ben » Wed Aug 15, 2018 9:28 pm

Wikipedia states that Madame Yuki is in the public domain here in the States so a release doesn't sound unmanageable.
Last edited by Big Ben on Wed Aug 15, 2018 9:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

artfilmfan
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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#11 Post by artfilmfan » Wed Aug 15, 2018 9:29 pm

Just when I thought I'm done with buying Mizoguchi films on DVD/Blu-ray, then comes along this announcement!

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Finch
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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#12 Post by Finch » Thu Aug 16, 2018 3:11 pm

It's my favourite Mizo as well and I'm going to triple-dip on this for the 4k resto.

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Toby Dammit
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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#13 Post by Toby Dammit » Fri Aug 17, 2018 1:48 pm

Why Criterion preferred "A Story From Chikamatsu" to name this film over "The Crucified Lovers" -much more appealing, much more dramatic- which is the most widely known name in the West?
Other films are included in the collection with their most popular names in English.

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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#14 Post by artfilmfan » Fri Aug 17, 2018 9:43 pm

swo17 wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:47 pm
Michael Kerpan wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:42 pm
swo17 wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:39 pm
Yes, next time Criterion, please think outside the (MoC) box: Portrait of Madame Yuki!
I think this just may be Mizoguchi's most purely visually beautiful film. I love it despite finding the story just a wee bit problematic.
There was a story?! :shock:
Yes, there was! It's from Chikamatsu, in case you haven't heard. And get this, according to Michael, it's "just a wee bit problematic"; therefore, there's nothing worth worrying about!

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#15 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:43 pm

It's Madame Yuki's plot that I said was "problematic".

Chikamatsu monogatari is PERFECT!!!! ;-)

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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#16 Post by artfilmfan » Sat Aug 18, 2018 9:13 am

Duh! I should have thought outside of the (MoC) box!

If Chikamatsu monogatari is that PERFECT, I surely will triple-dip. I already bought the French DVD (released early this century, remember that?) and the, ahem, MoC DVD.

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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#17 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat Aug 18, 2018 11:46 am

I also have the French set (with the only available DVD of Taira Clan, albeit only with French subs), and the MOC BluRay.

Well, this was Kurosawa's favorite Mizoguchi film (if that counts). ;-)

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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#18 Post by artfilmfan » Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:16 am

I watched this again on the MoC DVD last night, after not having seen it for many years. It has held up very well. An excellent film!

dda1996a
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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#19 Post by dda1996a » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:08 am

That OOP MoC Mizoguchi box will always haunt me, won't it? Is going through his filmography in chronological order a good way to start? Even though I still have Ugetsu sitting on my shelf unseen looking at me every morning

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domino harvey
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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#20 Post by domino harvey » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:09 am

Since you need someone to tell you to do it: Go watch Ugetsu

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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#21 Post by artfilmfan » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:32 am

I don't know which will haunt dda more, missing out on the OOP MoC Blu-ray boxset or having an unseen ghost story sitting on the shelf staring at him every morning. Heeding domino' advice seems like something that will help mitigate the problem.

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Ribs
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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#22 Post by Ribs » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:37 am

Toby Dammit wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 1:48 pm
Why Criterion preferred "A Story From Chikamatsu" to name this film over "The Crucified Lovers" -much more appealing, much more dramatic- which is the most widely known name in the West?
Other films are included in the collection with their most popular names in English.
It also happens to spoil the ending.

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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#23 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:04 pm

Ribs wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:37 am
It also happens to spoil the ending.
Of course, at the time it was made, its intended Japanese audience would probably known/guessed the ending regardless of the name (just knowing it was by Chikamatsu would be a tip-off, and knowing the specific source work would make it even more clear). So, only Western audiences unacquainted with Chikamatsu would be surprised by the ending in any event. (And, of course, the film actually starts with a pair of lovers on their way to be crucified).

Spoilers should never be a thing when one is dealing with adaptations of classic works of literature/theater.

dda -- If you have Ugetsu sitting around, why not watch it? ;-)

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Ribs
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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#24 Post by Ribs » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:25 pm

I understand that line of thinking, but people would have been upset if, say, they renamed Murder on the Orient Express
SpoilerShow
“Everyone Did It”
last year. Not the same thing at all as this obviously isn’t a mystery in the same vein, but I’m fairly certain that’s a bit part of why they changed the title, as silly and unnescessary as it may seem (as, even still, “the Crucified Lovers” is enigmatic and literary enough to not immediately make you think, “oh, that’s what that title means.”)

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domino harvey
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Re: 949 A Story from Chikamatsu

#25 Post by domino harvey » Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:29 pm

I've edited your post. Everyone, please use some common sense and don't spoil any other movies in this discussion without using a spoiler box

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