Ugetsu

Movie poster for 1953 Japanese movie Ugetsu (雨月物語, Ugetsu monogatari).

UgetsuTales of Ugetsu or Ugetsu Monogatari (雨月物語) is a 1953 Japanese romantic fantasy drama film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi and based on stories in Ueda Akinari‘s book of the same name. It is a ghost story and an example of the jidaigeki (period drama) genre, starring Masayuki Mori and Machiko Kyō.

Drawing its plot particularly from Ueda’s tales “The House in the Thicket” and “The Lust of the White Serpent”, the film is set in Azuchi–Momoyama period Japan (c. 1573–1600). It is about a peasant farmer and potter who leaves his wife and young son during civil war, and is seduced by a spirit that threatens his life. A subplot involves his friend, who dreams of becoming a great samurai and chases this goal at the unintended expense of his wife.

Major themes include the ethics of war, forbidden relationships with the spirit world, and neglect of family duty. The film won the Silver Lion Award at the 1953 Venice Film Festival and other honours. Ugetsu is one of Mizoguchi’s most celebrated films, regarded by critics as a masterpiece of Japanese cinema. It is credited with simultaneously helping to popularise Japanese cinema in the West and influencing later Japanese film.

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