Saturday, February 27, 2016

Saikaku ichidai onna / Life of Oharu


西鶴一代女 / O’Haru – naisen tie / O’Haru – en kvinnas väg / La Vie d'O'Haru femme galante / Das Leben der Frau Oharu. JP 1952. PC: Shin Toho. EX: Isamu Yoshiji. P: Hideo Koi, Kenji Mizoguchi. D: Kenji Mizoguchi. SC: Yoshikata Yoda, Yoshii Isamu – based on the novel Koshoku ichidai onna (in Finnish Kirsikkatyttö [Cherry Girl], 1978) by Saikaku Ihara, written in the 17th century. DP: Yoshimi Hirano. PD: Hiroshi Mizutani. M: Ichiro Saito. Historical consultant: Isamu Yoshi. C: Kinuyo Tanaka (O’Haru), Toshiro Mifune (Katsunosuke), Masao Shimizu (Kikuoji), Ichiro Sugai (Shinzaemon, O'Haru's father), Tsukio Matsuura (Tomo, O'Haru's mother), Kiyoko Tsuji (inn hostess / landlady), Toshiaki Konoe (Harutaka Matsudaira), Hisako Yamane (Lady Matsudaira), Yuriko Hamada (Otsubone Yoshioka), Kyoko Kusajima (lady-in-waiting Sodegaki), Noriko Sengoku (lady-in-waiting Sakurai), Haruyo Ichikawa (lady-in-waiting Iwabashi), Eitaro Shindo (Kabee Sasaya), Sadako Sawamura (Owasa), Hiroshi Oizumi (Bunkichi), Masao Mishima (Taisaburo Hishiya), Eijiro Yanagi (wealthy provincial / forger), Jukichi Uno (Yakichi Ogiya). Loc: Shin Toho outdoors studio at Hirakata near Kyoto. Helsinki premiere: 22.11.1963 Orion, distributor: Aito Mäkinen, Finnish / Swedish subtitles: Aito Mäkinen / Jerker A. Eriksson – telecast: 28.11.1968 MTV1, 29.10.1989 Yle TV2 – VET 67280 – K16 – duration according to sources: 148 min (IMDb, Wikipedia) – in Finland 3760 m / 136 min
    The KAVI print deposited by Aito Mäkinen viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (History of the Cinema), 27 Feb 2016.

Revisited a masterpiece by Kenji Mizoguchi, with one of the greatest performances of Kinuyo Tanaka who was Mizoguchi's anima, a versatile actress for many other directors – and a talented director in her own right. Tanaka's remarks on Mizoguchi are memorable in Kaneto Shindo's marvellous biographical Mizoguchi documentary Aru eiga-kantoku no shogai (1975).

We witness ten stages in the life of Oharu: - the dutiful daughter of a distinguished samurai, - a young maid caught in a forbidden love embrace with a page, - a suicidal daughter of a family now banished and living in poverty, - the concubine of daimyo Matsudaira giving birth to his son and then sent home, - a courtesan at an expensive house of pleasure caught in a scandal with a forger who wants to buy her, - an assistant to a clothier with a bald and jealous wife and a crooked young errand boy - a happy young wife of a fan merchant who is robbed and killed - a nun at a Buddhist monastery - a soka, the lowest of the low, a tramp whore of the street - rescued by her mother, she is again banished from the court where her son now reigns, and is last seen as a mad beggar singing the desolate theme song of "how bitter and and fickle life is / my life withers like a rose".

Oharu is the key masterpiece in Mizoguchi's post-war cycle of proto-feminist films, often starring Kinuyo Tanaka. Right after WWII he had made a series of passionate films with a direct social tendency. By Oharu he had moved to his Buddhist stage with a deeper spiritual involvement, but in no way watering down his sense of social indignation. Although a Buddhist by now, Mizoguchi never forgot the Friedrich Engels dictum about the status of women being the barometer by which one can measure the level of a society's development.

Oharu is also a celebration of the beauty and dignity of love, persecuted during centuries by society when it transcended class boundaries. Mizoguchi also celebrates Oharu's burningly high sexuality which causes her nothing but trouble. Even at the court the trouble starts when the relationship of convenience between the daimyo Matsudaira and his concubine Oharu turns into real passion.

Mizoguchi paints a rich portrait of Japanese society in the 17th century. We move across the entire social ladder from the most sumptuous court life to the most desolate slums. There is something Balzacian in Mizoguchi's passion of painting such a rich portrait of society. There is something Baudelairean in his sympathy for les femmes damnées.

Oharu is an epic tragedy. It has scenes of aching beauty (Oharu's amok run after she has read the last words of her lover to her before his execution). It has scenes of comedy (Matsudaira's envoy assigned with the task to find the perfect concubine) and moments of contes drôlatiques (the forger who comes to spend all his money at the Shimabara brothel). It has passages of pure elegy (Oharu's downfall). In the end, it is a saga of profound disappointment and fundamental solitude.

Mizoguchi is at the peak of his powers as a director in Oharu. With John Ford and Andrei Tarkovsky he belongs to the few who can combine an epic approach with a lyrical touch on this level of mastery.

The music by Ichiro Saito is enchanting, often played with a single instrument at a time (a flute, drums). The desolate theme song is performed by a derelict woman who sings and accompanies herself with the samisen. At the end the woman is Oharu.

The cinematography by Yoshimi Hirano is rich and subtle, often in deep focus, often in plan-séquence, often in dramatic high angle. Mizoguchi belongs to the masters of the crane shot and the long take; with him the long take is always full of life and movement, not meant to convey a sense of la nature morte.

The print often enough conveys the refined definition of light of the deep focus cinematography, but unfortunately it is uneven, and there are also low contrast passages (black missing), including in the very start. For a little while there are water / decomposition damage marks from the source from which this print was struck, showing that the source was not in perfect condition even then.

OUR PROGRAM NOTE BY PETER VON BAGH (1964):
OUR PROGRAM NOTE BY PETER VON BAGH (1964):

Varakkaan perheen kaunis tytär rakastuu alempiarvoiseensa. Mies teloitetaan rangaistukseksi. Viimeisinä hetkinään hän huutaa tulevilta ajoilta vapautta. Suuren rakkautensa kokenut kuulee järkyttävän viestin. Koko elämänsä hän etsii jo kadonnutta. Hän uhraa ruumiinsa, vanhenee, iloitsee ja kärsii, mutta säilyttää aina sielunsa puhtauden. Teos alkaa pitkällä päähenkilöä seuraavalla kamera-ajolla: “Puettu kuin nuori tyttö, kasvot paksun maalin peitossa... mutta aivan selvästi viisissäkymmenissä. O’Haru on soka, katunainen.” O’Haru kertoo kymmenkunta kuvaelmaa naisen elämästä. Ajallisesti ne hajoavat monen vuosikymmenen alueelle; jokainen niistä on edustava ja kuin laajenemaisillaan, voisi käydä kokonaiskuvastakin, ellei rakenne olisi ratkaisevan tärkeää. O’Harun tarinasta kasvaa sosiaalisista olosuhteista koko uransa ajan kiinnostuneen ohjaajan tutkielma 1600-luvun feodaaliyhteiskunnasta. Päähenkilö käy läpi kaikki yhteiskuntansa luokat ja niitten mahdollisiksi tekemät nöyryytykset. Kertomuksen melodramaattisia ulottuvuuksia korostavalla tavalla rakastamisen mahdollisuudet ja yhteiskunnan myötätunnon määrä näyttävät aina kääntäen verrannollisilta.

Etäisyys tapahtumiin luo Mizoguchin teosten hienotunteisen mietiskelevän sävyn. Selvempää suhtautumista unien, muistiainesten ja todellisuuden suhteisiin ei voi olla. Hänen elokuvistaan mahdollisesti välittyvät mystilliset piirteet ovat vain tässä välimatkassa: tieto ja usko eivät ole koskaan erotettavissa aavistuksesta. Kosketus kuvattavaan on toki olemassa; tuskin milloinkaan on saanut nähdäkseen karmivampaa ja konkreettisempaa kohtausta kuin O’Harun tutustuminen uuden emäntänsä salaisuuteen. Joutuessaan järjestämään tämän komeaa tukkalaitetta O’Harun käteen alkaa tarttua hiuksia, lopulta koko sairauden takia tukkansa menettäneen naisen päälaelle huolellisesti kiinnitetty peruukki.

O’Harun vanhemmat ovat pakottaneet rakkaudellaan perheen sosiaaliset ylenemismahdollisuudet tärvelleen tyttärensä erään ylimyksen jalkavaimoksi, synnyttämään tälle perillisen. Heti synnytyksen jälkeen poika otetaan O’Harulta, joka palautetaan tapaukseen suuria taloudellisia toiveita kiinnittäneitten vanhempiensa luo. Suuresta hetkestä ja kasvavasta pojasta tulee hänen ylin unelmansa, jonka intensiivisyys lausumattomanakin on häkellyttävää. O’Harun muistikuvat päättyvät samaan kuvaan, joka aloitti teoksen: O’Haru kävelemässä, nähdään vain hänen selkänsä. Ystävät havahduttavat patsasrivin eteen pysähtyneen O’Harun mietteissään. Tämä pystyy sanomaan vain pari oudoksuttavaa huomautusta siitä kuinka patsaat “muistuttavat tuntemiamme miehiä”, kun hän jo lysähtää maahan sairastuneena tai järkyttyneenä. Nyt saapuu tieto, että hän saa tavata täysi-ikäiseksi tulleen poikansa, josta isänsä kuoleman jälkeen on tullut uusi herra. Vähän myöhemmin selitetään kuitenkin, että kerjäläisestä prostituoiduksi valahtanut O’Haru ei ole elänyt poikansa arvon mukaista elämää eikä näin ollen ole kelvollinen häntä tapaamaan. Erikoisena suosionosoituksena hänelle myönnetään lupa hetken aikaa katsoa etäältä poikaansa.

Jo ajatuksena lausuttuun lupaukseen sisältyvä konstruktio on äärimmäisen rohkea. Seuraavaan kohtaukseen sisältyvä ilmaus ihmisen suhteesta illuusioonsa on havainnollisempi kuin kenenkään muun elokuvan taiteilijan näkemys usein esiintyvästä aiheesta. Se alkaa kaukaa otetulla kuvalla, jossa nuori ylimys jäljessään seurueensa, kulkee talon vierustaa. Tullaan lähemmäksi, keskelle asetelmaa. O’Haru on ilmeetön, tapahtumien paineesta pelkkää tunnetta ja vaistoa. Pojan kulkiessa hänen ohitseen, hän riistäytyy pidättelijöitään ja lähtee juoksemaan perään. Hän onnistuu olemaan vapaana jonkin aikaa, mutta pian hänet taas siepataan. Tällä kertaa hänelle ei mahdeta mitään, sillä hän aivan yksinkertaisesti katoaa. Jakso päättyy yleisnäkymään pihasta, jossa hämmästyneet palvelijat huhuilevat ja hapuilevat O’Harua esiin.

– Peter von Bagh (Parnasso 1/1964). Tiedot päivitetty 7.9.2000 AA

WIKIPEDIA THE FREE ENCYCLOPEDIA (ENGLISH)

The Life of Oharu (西鶴一代女, Saikaku Ichidai Onna) is a 1952 historical fiction black-and-white film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi starring Kinuyo Tanaka as Oharu, a one-time concubine of a daimyo (and mother of a later daimyo) who struggles to escape the stigma of having been forced into prostitution by her father.

The Life of Oharu is based on various stories from Ihara Saikaku's The Life of an Amorous Woman. It was produced by the Shintoho Company, with cinematography by Yoshimi Hirano and screenplay by Yoshikata Yoda. The production designer was Hiroshi Mizutani and Isamu Yoshi was the historical consultant.

It has been claimed that this movie was one of Kenji Mizoguchi's favorite projects, even though it was under-financed.

Plot

The story opens on Oharu as an old woman in a temple flashing back through the events of her life. It begins with her love affair with a page, Katsunosuke (Toshirō Mifune), the result of which (due to their class difference) is his execution and her family's banishment. Oharu attempts suicide but fails and is sold to be the mistress of Lord Matsudaira with the hope she will bear him a son. She does, but then is sent home with minimal compensation to the dismay of her father, who has worked up quite a debt in the meantime. He sends her to be a courtesan, but there, too, she fails and is again sent home. She goes to serve the family of a woman who must hide the fact that she is bald from her husband. The woman becomes jealous of Oharu and makes her chop off her hair, but Oharu retaliates, revealing the woman's secret. She again must leave—this time she marries a fan maker who is killed shortly after during a robbery. She attempts to become a nun, but Oharu is thrown out after being caught naked with a man seeking reimbursement for an unauthorized gift (it is made clear this is rape by Oharu's claims and distraught demeanor). She is thrown out of the temple, becomes a prostitute, but fails even at that. In the end, she is recalled to the Lord's house in order to keep secret her activities and to be exiled within the compounds to keep her secrets locked away. While being scolded for the life she chose, she attempts to find her son, and in the process, ends up running away as she chooses the life of a wandering nun over the life in exile.

Cast and main characters

    Kinuyo Tanaka as Oharu – The protagonist whose bad luck and misfortune lead to various struggles in life.
    Tsukie Matsuura as Tomo, Oharu's Mother – A kind character in the film; her mother tended to side with Oharu and did not wish to see her become a courtesan.
    Ichirō Sugai as Shinzaemon, Oharu's Father – Oharu's father was consumed by both money and social status. His misjudgments about Oharu caused much of her downfall.
    Toshiro Mifune as Katsunosuke – A page who courted Oharu and they fell into a forbidden love. He is beheaded once their relationship is discovered.
    Toshiaki Konoe as Lord Harutaka Matsudaira – He takes Oharu as a mistress in order to bear a child heir. Unfortunately for Oharu, he falls in love with Oharu and his wife's jealousy causes her dismissal.
    Hisako Yamane as Lady Matsudaira – The wife of Harutaka Matsudaira who, because of her jealousy of her husband's love for Oharu, banishes her.
    Jūkichi Uno as Yakichi Ogiya – He was a respected fan maker who married Oharu, however, he is tragically murdered shortly into their marriage.
    Kiyoko Tsuji as Landlady.
    Eitarō Shindō as Kahe Sasaya.
    Akira Oizumi as Fumikichi, Sasaya's friend.
    Kyoko Kusajima as Sodegaki.
    Masao Shimizu as Kikuoji
    Daisuke Katō as Tasaburo Hishiya
    Toranosuke Ogawa as Yoshioka
    Hiroshi Oizumi as manager Bunkichi
    Haruyo Ichikawa as Lady-in-waiting Iwabashi
    Yuriko Hamada as Otsubone Yoshioka
    Noriko Sengoku as Lady-in-waiting Sakurai
    Sadako Sawamura as Owasa
    Masao Mishima as Taisaburo Hishiya
    Eijirō Yanagi as forger
    Chieko Higashiyama as Myokai, the old nun
    Takashi Shimura as old man
    Benkei Shiganoya as Jihei
    Komako Hara as Otsubone Kuzui

Awards

The Life of Oharu won the International Prize at the 1952 Venice International Film Festival and was nominated to Golden Lion. The film (include 1952 films Himitsu, Inazuma and Okaasan) won 1953 Mainichi Film Concours for best film score (Ichirō Saitō).[2]

See also
    List of films in the public domain

References

http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/1952/cb000770.htm accessed 21 January 2009
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045112/awards accessed 21 January 2009

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