What are the Important Things in Life?
Randy Keehn | Williston, ND United States | 04/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Despite some disturbing scenes and issues, this is a beautiful movie. It tells the story of how the search for money and glory can destroy true happiness. What makes the story work is a lot of different things. First of all, the acting is very good. Watching in in subtitles (there wasn't any other option) helped with appreciating this facet of the movie. The scenery and costumes were pretty good as well. The directing was what was the most outstanding. I confess that I have a problem with most modern movies in that they show a heavy dependance on modern technology and declining moral standards. This enables modern films to utilize two avenues of showing more and more which leaves less and less to the imagination. The talent on display in "Ugetsu" shows how directing at its' best was a true art form; greater, often, than the acting itself. There are several scenes that come to mind. As soldiers rape and pillage, there comes a scene of a gang rape of a woman. Everything we see on film makes it clear in our minds as to what has taken place. Yet the only clothing we see removed is a pair of sandals. Another scene involves an erotic encounter in which, again we understand clearly yet are not invited to watch. There are other scenes worthy of mention but I don't want to give anything away. The way this movie moves along is another testament to its' director; Kenji Mizoguchi. On the negative side, this movie is currently only available on VHS. I confess to being frustrated with all of my Beta movies and now all of my VHS movies seeming to head towards obsolescence. However, I have come to appreciate the quality as well as the other features of DVD's. Thus I found myself immediately focussing on the occassional snap, crackle, and pop of the VHS quality. Still, once I was engrossed in the story (and that didn't take long to happen), it either ceased to bother me or the quality improved and the movie progressed. There is a timeless message in this movie that will reach out to just about all viewers. It has to do with identifying our values and appreciating what we have rather than what we desire. Sounds like a message we've heard before but I'm not sure it's been presented quite so well before or since."
"I desire nothing but you with me."
Dymon Enlow | 07/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Profound in its sadness UGETSU is the heartbreaking story of two dirt poor villagers back in 16th century Japan. Both are married and have wives who love them just the way they are, but both men are blinded to their wives' love by envy. One to be rich the other to be a great warrior. They think that if they attain these goals they will find happiness and their wives will love them more - but that is already impossible.
Both men are granted their wishes but it doesn't bring them happiness. In fact it brings them and their wives more pain and grief then they ever knew existed. In the end they realize the happiness they had to begin with, but is it too late?
Perfect in every way, I consider this not only among the greatest films, but also one of the most important. There is a great lesson to learn here about appreciating the true happiness that might be right in front of you or already inside you.
Criterion: a Mizoguchi box set please.
Tales and songs
PolarisDiB | Southwest, USA | 03/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The movie starts out pretty uncomfortably, two peasants in 16th century Japan who dream of richness and glory so blindly, they can't even hear the pretty straight-forward protests of their loving wives who try to convince them that their happiness is fine at home. When one, a pottery smith, makes a small bundle selling his wares, they decide to make a much larger batch together and become rich.
Forced out of their homes by an approaching war and uncertain where to go, they take their wares to a thriving market place, where the second peasant's ambition to be a samurai devides them and causes all four characters, the two peasants and their wives, to be separated, all fending for themselves amongst the war and various classes differently.
At this point the film reverses itself and instead of being a pretty skin-deep, tragic bud of greed, it blooms into a beautiful and haunting tale of obsession and illusion. The two main stories of the peasants and their wives are opposite only in their imaged realism, where one peasant falls completely under the curse of an enchanting ghost and the other lies and steals his way to fame, only both of them are eventually knocked down from their own hubris and forced to finally awaken to what their wives have said all along.
It's quite exquisite, this movie, with its long takes and its lack of the usual constructs that make up messages of obsession and greed. Once it gets beyond the small, uncomfortable, claustrophobic world of the peasant's home, it becomes audaciously challenging and mysterious, so that the same small home becomes amazingly wonderful and comforting. The very essense of the movie is breathed into the emotions of the audience in very subtle ways, making a very unforgettable cinematic experience.
Nippon Film Fan | Osaka, Japan | 07/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An earlier reviewer wanted to know if the title "Tales of the Pale Moon After the Rain" was a correct translation of Ugetsu Monogatari. It is. The title is taken from a 17th century collection of Japanese ghost stories of the same name, which contains this very story. It also refers to the shimmering illusions (fame and fortune) that the two protagonists are chasing before they come to their senses and return home. It also contains a subtle critique of Japan's madness during World War II. It is all these things and more in a beautifully filmed and acted masterpiece."