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 Post subject: Re: Kenji Mizoguchi
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 9:50 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC
Donald Trampoline wrote:
Is there any good writing on the 47 Ronin in print? Looking for historical background of its making (analyzing the war/politics of the time). Or like a great Mizoguchi book (is there one?) that may have a chapter or few good pages on this.

FWIW, Fred Camper write a lengthy review for the Chicago Reader and Richard Brody had this to say in a New Yorker piece he did on Mizoguchi:

Quote:
“The 47 Ronin” is, simply, one of the great political films of all time. It’s the story of a group of samurai whose lord has been put to death—ordered to commit hara-kiri—by the shogun, and whose castle has been confiscated. The warriors of the title take it upon themselves to avenge the injustice and to oppose the confiscation—to stand up to the unjust yet unquestioned authority of a dictatorial regime and yet, at the same time, to remain true to the samurai code of honor. It’s an extraordinary balancing act that Mizoguchi pulls off. To satisfy the wartime norms of the day, he exalts classical Japanese warriors as self-sacrificing men of unimpeachable principle, and yet he emphasizes their fidelity to their conscience and their spirit of resistance. It’s a man’s world, the world of the samurai. Yet Mizoguchi builds the story to a crescendo of nobility and bloodshed through the intervention of a woman, the fiancée of one of the samurai, whose romantic concerns—though feared to be destructive of the samurai spirit—prove to be as noble, as principled, as courageous, as civic-minded, and as grand as those of the warriors.


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 Post subject: Re: Kenji Mizoguchi
PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:03 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:56 am
Donald Trampoline wrote:
Is there any good writing on the 47 Ronin in print? Looking for historical background of its making (analyzing the war/politics of the time). Or like a great Mizoguchi book (is there one?) that may have a chapter or few good pages on this.

Chapter six of Darrell Davis's excellent Picturing Japaneseness is entirely about 47 Ronin—its plot, style, and political meaning(s).

I wish I could recommend an English-language book on Mizoguchi's entire career, but the existing ones are pretty mediocre, I think. The chapter on Mizoguchi in David Bordwell's Figures Traced in Light is illuminating (heh) although it only talks about 47 Ronin in passing, really. There's a book-length English translation of Sato Tadao's writing on Mizoguchi that, unfortunately, is an unholy mess.


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 Post subject: Re: Kenji Mizoguchi
PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:49 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
There's a good book on Mizoguchi's early films by Donald Kirihara (who studied under Bordwell, I think) called Patterns of Time. I don't believe it gets up to the war-time films, however.


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 Post subject: Re: Kenji Mizoguchi
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:46 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
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I saw the new 4k restoration of Tales of the Taira Clan at MoMA tonight. Up until now good prints were hard to come by (I think 16mm prints were fairly common at Mizoguchi retrospectives), but this new DCP looks quite excellent.

It's not in the same league as Mizoguchi's masterworks, but the use of color is fairly striking, particularly one epic scene where an army of monks dash through a forest, with each person wielding a torch. The contrast between the flames and the cool, green vegetation is all the more stunning because it's real - there really are hundreds of torches being rushed through a forest, and it's all the more impressive that they didn't burn anything down. (A Hollywood production today would never pull off the same feat - even if they were game, the safety regulations alone would prevent them from trying.)

Also notable for launching Ichikawa Raizō's film career - he died from cancer 12 years later at the age of 37, but to this day he remains an acting legend in Japan.


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 Post subject: Re: Kenji Mizoguchi
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:32 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
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The women in Taira Clan are much more interesting than the men -- but get relatively little screen time. I hope a subbed Blu-Ray finally shows up (never was an English-subbed DVD, so far as I know).


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 Post subject: Re: Kenji Mizoguchi
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:38 am 

Joined: Mon May 13, 2013 1:38 am
The French DVD set ( Films sans Frontieres ) has English sub titles in addition to the French subs, haven't watched it in a while , think it was pretty average quality so a decent Blu-ray would be welcome.


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 Post subject: Re: Kenji Mizoguchi
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:40 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
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I have a French DVD set, but it must be a different one -- only French subs...


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 Post subject: Re: Kenji Mizoguchi
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:26 am 
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Joined: Thu May 28, 2009 7:33 am
Location: Helsinki, Finland
longstone wrote:
The French DVD set ( Films sans Frontieres ) has English sub titles in addition to the French subs, haven't watched it in a while , think it was pretty average quality so a decent Blu-ray would be welcome.

Two-disc edition, also included is the lengthy documentary Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director by Kaneto Shindo with English subs.


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 Post subject: Re: Kenji Mizoguchi
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:38 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:13 am
Just a reminder : FSF releases are mostly illegal releases since its owner (Galeshka Moravioff, though this isn't his real name) most of the time don't pay the required fees to get hold of the distribution rights. Though I suppose he might have paid for one or two, he hasn't for the Mizoguchi, so the DVD releases aren't legal.

Carlotta posted recently about the case of these Mizoguchi movies, because some French cinemathèque were showing 2 of the concerned films, giving Moravioff the opportunity to act like any legitimate distributor while he definitely isn't.

I of course don't want to point fingers at anyone buying these, just to remind this so that new potential buyers might be aware of the situation.


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 Post subject: Re: Kenji Mizoguchi
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:29 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC
FYI, if you're in NYC and want to see the new 4k restoration of Tales of the Taira Clan, you have one more chance as MoMA is screening it tonight at 7pm. It was nearly a full house when I went but it was a weekend and it didn't sell out, so as long as you get there by 7, you should be good.

(I should add that MoMA appears to take MoviePass too.)


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