student, Visual and Cultural Studies, University of Rochester
Donald Richie introduced Kenji Mizoguchi through a retrospective at the Cannes International Film Festival in 1961. Set in feudal Japan, The Life of Oharu is Mizoguchi's harsh indictment of exploitative men and a system that victimizes women. Tanaka demonstrates extraordinary tour-de-force acting in her role as a woman at various stages of her life who is continuously affected by men around her. A testimony to the supreme craftsmanship of Japanese filmmaking, the film is based on Saikaku Ihara's novel Koshoku Ichidai Onna.
Donald Richie on The Life of Oharu:
"Based on a light and picaresque novel by the 17th-century writer Saikaku, the film takes a more serious view of the decline and fall of the heroine--from court lady to common whore. Yoshikata Yoda's script, Tanaka's performance as Oharu, Hiroshi Mizutani's art direction and Ichiro Saito's score—using Japanese instruments—help make this one of Mizoguchi's most elegantly beautiful films."
Tickets: $12/$9 Japan Society members, seniors and students
Buy tickets online or call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. - Fri. 11 am - 6 pm, Weekends 11 am - 5 pm.
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This screening of The Life of Oharu is part of Richie's Fantastic Five: A Tribute to Donald Richie (1924-2013), Part 1
For those who don't live in the NYC metro area or who just can't make it to the screening on Saturday, keep in mind that The Criterion Collection offers The Life of Oharu on Blu-ray and DVD. (During November Barnes and Noble is having a 50% off all Criterion releases both in stores and onine at barnesandnoble.com.) I have the Blu-ray and it's magnificent, with the ample, excellent bonus features one expects from Criterion.