Kenji Mizoguchi's Fallen Women: Eclipse From The Criterion Collection
Over the course of a three-decade, more than eighty film career, master cineaste Kenji Mizoguchi (Ugetsu, Sansho the Bailiff) would return again and again to one abiding theme: the plight of women in male-dominated Japanese society. In these four lacerating works of socially conscious melodrama - two prewar (Osaka Elegy, Sisters of the Gion), two postwar (Women of the Night, Street of Shame) - Mizoguchi introduces an array of compelling female protagonists, crushed or resilient, who are economically and spiritually deprived by their nation's customs and traditions. With Mizoguchi's visual daring and eloquence, these films are as cinematically thrilling as they are politically rousing.
Osaka Elegy (Naniwa ereji)
Switchboard operator Ayako (Isuku Yamada) agrees to enter into an affair with her married boss after he promises to support her and her father - setting her off on a seemingly irreversible downward spiral.
Sisters Of The Gion (Gion no shimai)
Two geisha sisters - one modern-minded, the other staunchly traditional - disagree over how to deal with the men controlling their lives and livelihoods in Mizoguchi's early masterpiece.
Women Of The Night (Yoru no onnatachi)
This ragged, searing melodrama about postwar degradation in Japan centers on three women, abandoned by society, whose only survival option is to compromise their bodies and souls.
Street Of Shame (Akasen chitai)
In a brothel in Tokyo's red-light district, a group of working women, their profession on the verge of being outlawed, deal with life's disappointments, large and small. This beautiful, humane film was Mizoguchi's last.