Zangiku monogatari. Kenji Mizoguchi. 1939.

I haven’t seen many pre-WWII Japanese movies…. hm… I guess it’s possible that I’ve never seen any? Like everybody else, I’ve seen a bunch from the 50s and 60s (when the Japanese got very influenced by French movies), but I guess 30s Japanese movies aren’t really part of the Cinematheque repertoire?

So I’m excited about seeing something new, and slightly worried that it’s just going to be some Japanese guys shouting at each other for over two hours.

(It always seems that Japanese people are very shouty when reading about oldee-tymey Japan…)

This is a 2K restoration by Criterion. I hate to imagine what it looked like before they restored it? Because it’s … pretty rough?

I like the cinematography. It’s basically one stationary camera, placed many meters from the actors, but it swivels.

I like this… but my main problem is really with the cinematography x the resolution. When people’s faces are still small, and so grainy, it’s just really hard to tell them apart? If this is how this movie looked at release time, then Mizoguchi really overreached: The film stock just isn’t up to telling the story he wants to tell.

But perhaps it’s just degraded really badly over the years and it was totes clear at the time who was who. m.

That it’s really dark doesn’t help with comprehension either.

On the other other hand, the storyline is super simple, so it’s less confusing than it could have been.

This blog post is part of the 1939

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