|Kakuko Mori as Otoku and Shotaro Hanayagi as Kikunosuke Onoe|
B&W, 1.37:1, DCP
New digital restoration
Widely regarded as director Kenji Mizoguchi’s first masterpiece, The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum will make its New York theatrical premiere in a two-week exclusive engagement beginning Friday, December 25, 2015 in a new restoration at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center.
The film is Mizoguchi’s hauntingly beautiful adaptation of a popular novel by Shofu Muramatsu. Shotaro Hanayagi stars as Kikunosuke Onoe, a young actor and the adopted son of a Kabuki star in late-19th-century Tokyo. Failing to meet the standards set by his father, Onoe estranges himself from his family by entering into a relationship with Otoku (Kakuko Mori), his newborn brother’s nurse who makes agonizing self-sacrifices to advance her beloved Onoe’s career.
Mizoguchi thoughtfully conveys a culture’s social limitations and repressive gender roles while maintaining a pitch-perfect balance of tragedy and romance. With its flowing camera movements, delicate long takes, and measured choreography of actors, this masterpiece is marked by splendorous interplay of movement and space, and is a poignant tale of conflict between generations and, most primarily, of female sacrifice.
The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival in a new digital restoration made from a 4K film transfer by Shochiku and presented by Janus Films. The Film Society of Lincoln Center is doing a great service in hosting this long-overdue revival of one of Mizoguchi’s defining achievements, never before released in New York.