Mizoguchi, Kenji

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Mizoguchi, Kenji

Kenji Mizoguchi, 1898–1956, Japanese film director. Mizoguchi made more than 80 features, but some 50 from the silent film and early sound years have not survived. He is particularly known for films that portray the lives of women, whom he often depicts as suffering and sacrificing in a male-controlled society. These include A Geisha (1953) and A Woman of Rumor (1954); 19 of his extant works have female protagonists. Many of his films are set in historical periods, e.g., the Meiji period in another melodrama of female sacrifice, The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums (1939). His films also are known for their beauty and sense of place, their lengthy and distant shots, and their fluid camera movement. He achieved international fame when three of his films won consecutive awards at the Venice Film Festival: The Life of Oharu (1952), Ugetsu (1953), and Sansho the Bailiff (1954); Ugetsu, an elegant ghost story, especially helped Japanese cinema to come to the attention of Western audiences. Mizoguchi, Akira Kurosawa, and Yasujiro Ozu are generally considered the finest filmmakers of Japanese cinema's golden age.

See T. Sato, Kenji Mizoguchi and the Art of Japanese Cinema (2008).

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