Known for the exquisite beauty of his films and hailed as one of the greatest filmmakers ever by many critics, scholars, and filmmakers, Kenji Mizoguchi (1898-1956) produced 85 films that spanned the silent and sound eras in Japan. With his mastery of mise-en-scène and narrative, and enduring focus on the human experience, especially-perhaps more than any other theme-the suffering of women, Mizoguchi's films are celebrated worldwide. Of these works, only 30 exist today. Museum of the Moving Image and the Japan Foundation will present all of these extant works in a major retrospective-the first in North America in nearly 20 years and the first to feature all 30 titles-from today, May 2 through June 8, 2014. The Museum series, Mizoguchi, will include beloved classics such as Ugetsu, Sansho the Bailiff,Life of Oharu, Street of Shame, and Crucified Lovers, and rare titles that have scarcely shown in the United States.
All films in the retrospective will be shown on celluloid, most in 35mm, but also some in rare 16mm prints. In partnership with the Japan Foundation and the National Film Center in Tokyo, many of these archival prints have been imported from Japan.
Tickets for screenings are included with paid Museum admission and free for Museum members, who may also reserve tickets in advance. Otherwise tickets are distributed first-come, first-served on the day of the screening. For more information about membership, visit http://movingimage.us/support/membership.
After the Museum's presentation, the retrospective will travel to the Harvard Film Archive (Boston, Mass.) and the Pacific Film Archive (Berkeley, California). The series and tour were organized by Aliza Ma, Assistant Film Curator, and David Schwartz, Chief Curator, of Museum of the Moving Image.
"For anyone truly interested in the art of cinema, the Mizoguchi retrospective is essential, a very rare opportunity to see his remarkable body of work," said Schwartz.
Kenji Mizoguchi came to the attention of European critics and filmmakers at the Venice Film Festival in 1952, where he was awarded the International Director's Prize for Life of Oharu. The following year, Ugetsu made its debut on this same world stage; and Sansho the Bailiff the year after. With these three major works-and coming late in the course of his career (his first film was made in 1923)-Mizoguchi's international reputation was sealed. Featuring in all three films was actress Kinuyo Tanaka, who was a favorite among modern Japanese directors like Mikio Naruse and Yasujiro Ozu, but more than any other director, she was Mizoguchi's muse, appearing in fifteen films. This retrospective includes twelve of these titles.
Mizoguchi is co-presented with the Japan Foundation, with special thanks to the Kawakita Foundation, Kadokawa, the National Film Center (Tokyo), Nikkatsu, and Shochiku.