Παρασκευή, 27 Μαρτίου 2015

Ουγκέτσου Μονογκατάρι


Το Ουγκέτσου Μονογκατάρι (1953) περιλαμβάνεται στις 10 – 12 κορυφαίες κινηματογραφικές ταινίες.  Ισχυρό κίνητρο για να τη δω, βέβαια, στάθηκε το γεγονός ότι τη συμπεριλαμβάνει ο Ταρκόφσκι στη λίστα με τις 10 αγαπημένεςτου ταινίες, αλλά και τα επαινετικά σχόλια του Γκοντάρ για το σκηνοθέτη, ως έναν από τους μεγαλύτερους σκηνοθέτες (συνήθως η λίστα των μεγάλων σκηνοθετών περιλαμβάνει τον Ουέλς, το Ρενουάρ, το Ντράγιερ, τον Αϊζενστάιν, το Μπρεσόν, τον Κουροσάβα –αλλά για μένα- και τους Αγγελόπουλο, Μπέργκμαν, Ταρκόφσκι, Γκοντάρ, Μπονιουέλ, Φελίνι, Αντονιόνι, Παζολίνι…).  Αλλά και οι κινηματογραφικοί κριτικοί ομοφωνούν για το ταλέντο του δημιουργού και μάλιστα τον εκθειάζουν. «Όπως ο Μπαχ, ο Τισιανός και ο Σαίξπηρ, είναι άριστος στην τέχνη του» αποφάνθηκε γεμάτος ενθουσιασμό ο Γάλλος κριτικός Jean Douchet. αλλά […] και ο κριτικός Vincent Canby των New York Times τον εκθείασε ως «ένας από τους μεγάλους σκηνοθέτες του ομιλούντος κινηματογράφου» (Lopate, 2005).  Πρόκειται για μια ταινία νόστου -μια επιστροφή - και, παράλληλα, αποτελεί ένα πικρό και τραγικό σχόλιο πάνω στις έμφυλες ταυτότητες και στην ανισομέρεια των σχέσεων εξουσίας που αυτές εκφράζουν.   

Σημειώσεις:

Σκηνοθέτης       
                                                                               
Mizoguchi (1898–1956) began his career in the silent era and made dozens of fluent, entertaining studio films before arriving at his lyrical, rigorous visual style and patented tragic humanism, around the age of forty. His first masterworks were a pair of bitterly realistic films, made in 1936, on the subject of modern women’s struggles, Sisters of the Gion and Osaka Elegy. These breakthroughs led to the classic Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (1939), set in the Meiji era, about a Kabuki actor who stubbornly hones his craft with the aid of his all-too-sacrificing lover. In this film, Mizoguchi perfected his signature “flowing scroll,” “one shot–one scene” style of long-duration takes, which, by keeping the camera well back, avoiding close-ups, and linking the characters to their environment, generated hypnotic tension and psychological density. During the early 1940s, the director was hampered by the Japanese studios’ war propaganda effort, though he did make a stately, two-part version of The 47 Ronin. After the war ended, he turned to a series of intense pictures advocating progressive, democratizing ideals, which fell in with the occupation’s values while wobbling aesthetically between subtle refinement and hammy melodrama. (Lopate, 2005)
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Σενάριο
The screenplay of Ugetsu draws on literary sources from East and West. It uses two of the nine tales in Akirari Ueda’s best-known work, Tales of Moonlight and Rain (Ugetsu Monogatari, 1776). One is titled The House in the Thicket (Asaji ga Yado); the other, The Lust of the White Serpent (Jasei no in). Another source is a story titled Décoré!, by the nineteenth-century master of the French conte, Guy de Maupassant.
Veteran scriptwriters Matsutaro Kawaguchi and Yoshikata Yoda wove all three stories into a single tale that is driven by a theme dear to Mizoguchi: a woman pitted against a money-oriented, male-dominated world. Set in 16th-century Japan, a period of bloody civil war, Ugetsu focuses on common people swept up in a flood tide of social upheaval. Mizoguchi wrote in a letter to Yoda: “Whether war originates in the ruler’s personal motives, or in some public concern, how violence, disguised as war, oppresses and torments the populace, both physically and spiritually! . . . I want to emphasize this as the main theme of the film.” (K. Mc Donald)
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Πλοκή
Ugetsu is set in villages which line the shore of Lake Biwa in Ōmi Province in the late 16th century. It revolves around two peasant couples – Genjurō and Miyagi, Tōbei and Ohama – who are uprooted as Shibata Katsuie's army sweeps through their farming village, Nakanogō. Genjurō, a potter, takes his wares to nearby Ōmizo. He is accompanied by Tōbei, who dreams of becoming a samurai. A respected sage tells Miyagi to warn her husband about seeking profit in time of upheaval, and to prepare for a probable attack on the village. Genjurō arrives with his profits, but she asks him to stop. Genjurō nevertheless works long hours to finish his pottery. That night Nakanogō is attacked by soldiers, and the four main characters hide out in the woods.
Genjurō decides to take the pots to a different marketplace, and the two couples travel across a lake. Out of the thick fog another boat appears. The sole passenger tells them he was attacked by pirates, warns them back to their homes, then dies. The two men decide to return their wives to the shore. Tōbei's wife refuses to go; Miyagi begs Genjurō not to leave her, but is left on the shore with their young son, Gen'ichi, clasped to her back. At market, Genjurō's pottery sells well. After taking his promised share of the profits, Tōbei runs off to buy samurai armor, and sneaks into the ranks of a clan of samurai. Lost from her companions, Ohama has wandered beyond Nagahama in her desperate search for Tōbei. She is raped by a group of soldiers.
Genjurō is visited by a noblewoman and her female servant, who order several pieces of pottery and tell him to take them to the Kutsuki mansion. Genjurō learns that Nobunaga's soldiers have attacked the manor and killed all who lived there, except Lady Wakasa and her servant. He also learns that Lady Wakasa's father haunts the manor. Genjurō is seduced by Lady Wakasa, and she convinces him to marry her. Meanwhile, Nakanogō is under attack. Miyagi and her son hide from soldiers and are found by an elderly woman who hurries them to safety. In the woods, several soldiers desperately search her for food. She fights with the soldiers and is stabbed. She collapses with her son still clutching her back.
Tōbei steals the severed head of a general, which he presents to the commander of the victorious side. He is rewarded with armor, a mount, and a retinue. Tōbei later rides into the marketplace on his new horse, eager to return home to show his wife. However, he visits a brothel and finds her working there as a prostitute. Tōbei promises to buy back her honor. Later, the two return to Nakanogō, Tōbei throwing his armor into a river along the way.
Genjurō meets a priest, who tells him to return to his loved ones or certain death awaits him. When Genjurō mentions the noblewoman, the priest reveals that the noblewoman is dead and must be exorcised, and then invites Genjurō to his home where he paints Buddhist prayers on his body. Genjurō returns to the Kutsuki mansion. He admits that he is married, has a child and wishes to return home. Lady Wakasa will not let him go. They admit they are spirits, returned to this world so that Lady Wakasa, who was slain before she knew love, could experience its joys. She tells him to wash away the Buddhist symbols. Genjurō reaches for a sword, throws himself out of the manor, and passes out. The next day, he is awakened by soldiers. They accuse him of stealing the sword, but he denies it, saying it is from the Kutsuki mansion. The soldiers laugh at him, saying the Kutsuki mansion was burned down over a month ago. Genjurō arises and finds the mansion he has lived in is nothing more than a pile of burnt wood. The soldiers confiscate his money; but because Shibata's army burned down the prison, they leave Genjurō in the rubble. He returns home by foot, searching for his wife.
Miyagi, delighted to see him, will not let him tell of his terrible mistake. Genjurō holds his sleeping son in his arms, and eventually lies down to sleep. The next morning, Genjurō wakes to the village chief knocking on his door. He is surprised to see Genjurō home, and expresses concern. He explains that he has been caring for Genjurō's son, and that the boy must have come to his old home in the middle of the night. Genjurō calls for Miyagi. The neighbor asks if Genjurō is dreaming, as his wife is dead. Miyagi's spirit tells Genjurō: "I am always with you", while he continues on pottery, and their son offers food to her. As with others, the film closes with (owari, the end), in handwritten cursive.
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Two brothers, one consumed by greed, the other by envy. In a time when the land is savaged by marauding armies, they risk their families and their lives to pursue their obsessions. Kenji Mizoguchi's "Ugetsu" (1953) tells their stories in one of the greatest of all films -- one which, along with Kurosawa's "Rashomon," helped introduce Japanese cinema to Western audiences. The heroes are rough-hewn and consumed by ambition, but the film style is elegant and mysterious, and somehow we know before we are told that this is a ghost story.
The opening shot is one of Mizoguchi's famous "scroll shots," so named for the way it pans across the landscape like a Japanese scroll painting. We see a village, the roofs of the rude houses weighed down by tree branches to keep them from blowing away in the wind. We meet Genjuro (Masayuki Mori), a potter, and his brother Tobei (Eitaro Ozawa), a farmer. Although gunshots on the wind suggest an army is near, Genjuro is loading a cart with bowls, cups and vases, packed in straw. His wife Miyagi (Kinuyo Tanaka) begs him not to risk a trip to the city at this time of conflict -- to stay home to protect her and their son. But he insists, and Tobei, filled with goofy excitement, insists on coming along, despite the protests of his wife Ohama (Mitsuko Mito).
Genjuro returns with treasure: gold coins, which he insists his wife weigh in her hand. He makes her a gift of a beautiful fabric, bought in the city, but doesn't understand when she says that the cloth means less than his love for her. All he can talk about is making more pots and more money. Blinded by the gold, he returns to his work with a frenzy.
Tobei sees a great samurai on their trip and tries to enlist in his army, but is turned away as a "dirty beggar" because he has no armor. Now the two men plan their next assault on the city, although when an army sweeps through on the night they have fired the kiln, they fear their work has been lost. Not so; the pots survive, and this time they think it will be safer to journey by boat across the lake to the city, instead of by land.
The famous lake scene is the most beautiful in the film. Shot partly on a tank with studio backdrops, it creates a world of fog and mist, out of which emerges a lone boatman who warns them of pirates. Genjuro returns to leave his wife and child on the shore, and continues with Tobei and Ohama. In the city, his work sells quickly, and he is invited to the castle of a beautiful noblewoman named Lady Wakasa, who admires his craftsmanship. She's played by Machiko Kyo, one of the greatest stars of the period, who was also the woman in "Rashomon."
Tobei wanders off from his wife and his brother. Time passes. He clumsily kills a samurai and steals the head of a foe that the samurai had killed. Presenting this trophy to the samurai lord, he is praised and given a horse, a house and men to follow him. Filled with pride, he brings his men for the night to a geisha house, only to find that his wife, raped by soldiers after he abandoned her, has become a geisha.
Elsewhere in the city, Genjuro visits a fabric shop and imagines his wife's joy when he brings her more beautiful dresses, but then Lady Wakasa appears, suggesting he may need a guide to her castle. He is mesmerized by her strange beauty; made up like a Noh heroine with smudges for eyebrows high on her forehead, her face shadowed by veils and a wide straw hat, she is like no woman he has ever seen.
At the castle, she drifts from behind screens and curtains and, regarding his simple pots, asks him, "How is such beauty created?" She praises and seduces him, and the critic Pauline Kael remembers she gasped with delight when he cried, "I never dreamed such pleasures existed!" Perhaps Genjuro should have taken warning when he heard the voice of the lady's dead father echoing through the room, and when her lady-in-waiting advised him, "Don't bury your talents in a small village! You must marry her!"
Mizoguchi (1898-1956) was famous for the theory that one scene should equal one cut, although sometimes he made exceptions. The great Yasujiro Ozu had the same theory, with the difference that Ozu's camera never moved in his later films, while Mizoguchi's style was constructed around flowing, poetic camera movement. Consider a scene where Lady Wakasa visits Genjuro as he is bathing in an outdoor pool, and as she enters the pool to join him, water splashes over the side and the camera follows the splash into a pan across rippling water that ends with the two of them having a picnic on the grass.
There is a crucial sequence when Genjuro goes back into the city, and on his return to the lakeside castle, is halted by a priest, who calls after him: "I see death in your face! Have you encountered a ghost?" He warns Genjuro against being "beguiled by a forbidden form of love."
Back at the castle Lady Wakasa begins to embrace Genjuro, but recoils, crying out, "There is something on his skin!" Indeed, the priest has covered Genjuro with symbols of exorcism, which seem to burn the noblewoman as if they are flames.
Lady Wakasa is of course a ghost (we never doubted it), and there is a haunting scene when Genjuro sees the castle as it really is, a burned ruin. There is a second ghost in the movie who we do not suspect, and the revelation in that case creates a touching emotional release. It comes toward the end, after both men have returned chastened to their village, and are forgiven by their wives for the male weakness of blinding ambition. (R. Ebert)
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Σχόλια
Το πιο δυνατό προτέρημα της ταινίας είναι η απόλυτη ισορροπία στην κίνηση μεταξύ ρεαλιστικού και απόκοσμου. Ο Μιζοκούτσι το πετυχαίνει αυτό καθοδηγώντας τη σκηνοθεσία μεταξύ μια νηφάλιας, σχεδόν ντοκυμαντερίστικης και αποστασιοποιημένης οπτικής και μερικών λυρικών και προσεκτικά χορογραφημένων σκηνικών, όπως η σκηνή στη Λίμνη Μπίουα, όπου τα δυο ζευγάρια συναντάνε ένα πλοίο φάντασμα στην ομίχλη.  To περίφημο «ανυπέρβλητο» κάδρο του Μιζογκούτσι είναι μοναδικό και αυτοφυές. Είναι ίσως ο μοναδικός σκηνοθέτης στον κόσμο που τολμά να χρησιμοποιεί συστηματικά αντικριστά πανοραμίκ πλάνα 180 μοιρών και μάλιστα χωρίς στιγμή να φαντάζει απλώς ως μία προσπάθεια εντυπωσιασμού του θεατή, όπως ίσως να φαινόταν σε κάποιον άλλο σκηνοθέτη.  Η κίνηση της κάμερας είναι απλή, φυσική, δίνοντας μεγάλη σημασία στο ντεκόρ αλλά και στη θέση που καταλαμβάνουν σε αυτό οι ηθοποιοί. Ένας πραγματικός μετρ της τέχνης του φοντί ανσενέ και του dissolve που τα αξιοποιεί με τον καλύτερο δυνατό τρόπο ώστε να δημιουργήσει την αίσθηση.  Η οπτική βάση έχει πάντα ένα ακουστικό συμπλήρωμα που λειτουργεί με μια πλήρη εκφραστική αυτονομία. Η μουσική και οι ήχοι στην ταινία είναι μια αλυσίδα σημάτων παίζοντας έναν τυπικό ρόλο που προσδίδει την αντιρρεαλιστική αοριστία του μύθου. Έτσι η εικόνα μοιάζει να κολυμπάει μέσα στην ακουστική ατμόσφαιρα και ο ήχος να ακουμπάει την εικόνα και να την εξαϋλώνει. (Μ. Αγαζιώτη)
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As Mizoguchi’s great cinematographer, Kazuo Miyagawa, stated in a 1992 interview, they used a crane 70 percent of the time in filming Ugetsu. The camera, almost constantly moving—not only laterally but vertically—conveys the instability of a world where ghosts come and go, life and death flow simultaneously into each other, and everything is, finally, transient, subject to betrayal. At her wedding to Genjuro, Lady Wakasa sings: “The finest silk / Of choicest hue / May change and fade away / As would my life / Beloved one / If thou shouldst prove untrue.” The camera’s viewpoint is always emotionally significant: we look down from above as Lady Wakasa leans over Genjuro to seduce him, as though to convey his fear and desire, while we are practically in the mud with Tobei as he crawls along on his belly, before witnessing his big break—the enemy general’s suicidal beheading, for which he will take credit.
Just as the camera’s image field keeps changing (without ever losing its elegantly apt compositional sense), so too do our sympathies and moral judgments shift from character to character. No doubt, Genjuro is right to want to escape the clutches of his ghostly mistress, yet she has given him nothing but happiness and is justified in feeling betrayed by him. Tobei is something of a clown, a buffoon, yet his pain is real enough when, puffed up with samurai vanity, he finds his wife working in a brothel. The complex camera movement that follows Ohama from berating a customer to stumbling upon the open-jawed Tobei, and the ensuing passage in which she struggles between anger, shame, and happiness at being reunited with him, demonstrate the way that this director’s compassionate, if bitter, moral vision and his choice of camera angle reinforce each other. Mizoguchi’s formalism and humanism are part of a single unified expression.
Perhaps the most striking instance of this transcendent tenderness comes toward the end, when Genjuro returns home from his journey, looking for his wife: the camera inscribes a 360-degree arc around the hut, resting at last on the patient, tranquil Miyagi, who we had assumed was dead, having seen her speared earlier. We are relieved, as is Genjuro, to see her preparing a homecoming meal for her husband and mending his kimono while he sleeps. On awaking, he discovers that his wife is indeed dead; it appears he has again been taken in by a woman ghost. The sole consolation is that we (and presumably Genjuro) continue to hear the ghost of Miyaki’s voice, as she watches her husband approvingly at his potter’s wheel, noting that he has finally become the man of her ideals, though admitting that it is a pity they no longer occupy the same world. One might say that Mizoguchi’s detached, accepting eye also resembles that of a ghost, looking down on mortal confusions, ambitions, vanities, and regrets. While all appearances are transitory and unstable in his world, there is also a powerfully anchoring stillness at its core, a spiritual strength no less than a virtuoso artistic focus. The periodic chants of the monks, the droning and the bells, the Buddhist sutras on Genjuro’s back, the landscapes surrounding human need, allude to this unchanging reality side by side with, or underneath, the restlessly mutable. Rooted in historical particulars, Ugetsu is a timeless masterpiece. (Lopate, 2005).
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Ο δαφνοστολισμένος ηρωισμός και η πολεμική καταξίωση αντιμετωπίζονται με χλεύη και ειρωνεία, σε μία αποδόμησή τους ανεπαίσθητη αρχικά αλλά εν τέλει ισοπεδωτική. Ο πειρασμός δεν υπάρχει παρά για να ενδώσει κάποιος και να αξιολογήσει την ύπαρξή του πιο εποπτικά και σφαιρικά, αξιοποιώντας την αμαρτία του ως μέσο προσωπικής καθαγίασης. Η ιαπωνική εκδοχή του μύθου του Οδυσσέα περιλαμβάνει και αυτή μία επιστροφή στην Ιθάκη, δίχως όμως τελική αναμέτρηση και διαφορετικού τύπου λύτρωση. Η παλιννόστηση θα επιφέρει το δεύτερο σκέλος του διαχωρισμού ανάμεσα στο φανταστικό και το υπαρκτό, συμπλήρωμα του πρώτου, διδακτική τιμωρία και όχι εκδικητικός αφανισμός, ενταγμένο πλήρως στη φυσική και αταλάντευτη ροή των πραγμάτων, η οποία προϋπήρχε και θα συνεχίσει να υπάρχει στο διηνεκές. (Γ. Παπαδημητρίου)
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I learn from an article by Gary Morris in the Bright Lights Film Journal that Mizoguchi may have drawn on his own life in the story of "Ugetsu." When the director was a boy of 7, Morris writes, his father lost the family fortune in a reckless business venture. They moved to a poor district, and his 14-year-old sister Suzu "was put up for adoption and eventually sold to a geisha house." So perhaps the sins of the father were visited upon Mizoguchi's two heroes.
In a career that started in 1923, Mizoguchi ended with a series of masterpieces, including "Life of Oharu" (1952), "Sansho the Bailiff" (1954) and "Street of Shame" (1955), which in its consideration of geishas perhaps draws on the life of his sister. To enter his world, like entering Ozu's, is to find a film language that seems to create the mood it considers; the story and its style of telling are of one piece.
The characters in "Ugetsu" are down to earth, and in the case of Tobei, even comic, but the story feels ancient, and indeed draws on the ghost legends of Japanese theater. Unlike ghost stories in the West, Mizoguchi's film does not try to startle or shock; the discovery of the second ghost comes for us as a moment of quiet revelation, and we understand the gentle, forgiving spirit that inspired it.
Nor are Lady Wakasa's seduction techniques graphic; she conquers Genjuro not by being sexy or carnal, but by being distant and unfamiliar. Always completely cloaked, often hidden by veils, she enchants him not by the reality of flesh but by its tantalizing invisible nearness. I was reminded of Murnau's silent masterpiece "Sunrise" (1928), also about a country man who abandons his wife and child to follow an exotic woman across a lake to the sinful city. (R. Ebert)
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Ugetsu
"Ugetsu" means "pale and mysterious moon after the rain" (B. Crowther)
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