Do you love Japanese film classics, anime or contemporary cinema stories? Do you miss Japan and want to see it at least on screen? Would you like to learn and discuss about Japanese culture and society? Join us for the Japan Society Film Club where we will chat online about films and Japan in an informal atmosphere.
Celebrating the first year anniversary of the Film Club, we invite you to watch a poetic and tragic period drama by one of the absolute masters of Japanese cinema, Ugetsu directed by Kenji Mizoguchi in 1953.
Regarded as a masterpiece of Japanese cinema, Ugetsu (雨月物語, Ugetsu monogatari, 1953) is a cautionary tale of ambition, family, love, and war. The film is based on two stories written by Japanese writer Akinari Ueda in 1776, and is set in sixteenth century Japan, an era of civil wars and social turmoil. The story depicts the struggle of two peasants in search of wealth and military glory and is celebrated for its exquisite long takes and its blending of realistic period reconstruction and lyrical supernaturalism. Ugetsu won the Silver Lion for Best Direction at Venice Film Festival in 1953 and contributed to the introduction of Japanese cinema to Western audiences.
Kenji Mizoguchi (1898-1956) is one of the most acclaimed filmmakers in cinema history. Mostly known for post-war masterpieces such as The Life of Oharu (1952), Ugetsu (1953) and Sansho the Bailiff (1954), Mizoguchi was a prolific director and scriptwriter who started making films in 1920s. His early works were mainly genre films, including remakes of German expressionist cinema, but he also directed films exploring personal and social issues such as the status of women in modern Japan, for example in Osaka Elegy (1936), Sisters of the Gion (1936) and The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums (1939). Admired by his mastery in the use of long-take shots, his carefully planned mise-en-scène and his obsessive attention to detail, Mizoguchi was often inspired by traditional Japanese arts and literature which he depicted in jidai-geki (period drama) films such as Utamaro and His Five Women (1946), Princess Yang Kwei Fei (1955) or Tales of the Taira Clan (1955).
Japan Society Film Club takes place on the first Wednesday of the month. We will recommend a film to watch in advance and meet online to discuss. Films are often available online for free, on DVD, online platforms or on BFI player which includes a special season on Japanese cinema. When possible, we will invite film experts to introduce and lead the discussion, but the event is open to all and we encourage participants to freely express their opinions and feelings about the films.
If you have any questions, please call the Japan Society office on 020 3075 1996 or email email@example.com.
Please remember to watch the film in advance. Ugetsu is available on BFI player with subscription.
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