Street of Shame

赤線地帯 (Akasen chitai)
Japan 1956. Dir: Kenji Mizoguchi. 85 min. 35mm

35mm PRINT | Street of Shame — the Japanese title translates as “Red-Light District” — was Mizoguchi's last completed film; several months after its release, the director died of leukemia at the age of 58. Mizoguchi had gained international acclaim in his final years for a series of magnificent period pieces; this heartbreaking drama has a contemporary setting but keeps with Mizoguchi’s hallmark concern, the exploitation and suffering of woman. Superbly acted by a fine ensemble cast, the film set in a Tokyo brothel called “Dreamland,” where several diverse women working as prostitutes contend with the tribulations of their trade and the difficult socio-economic realities of postwar Japan. The film appeared in the midst of a public debate about a proposed anti-prostitution law, and may have played a part in its passage. “Of all the films about prostitution, Street of Shame is perhaps the greatest” (David Denby, The New Yorker).

REVIEWS

"Profoundly moving ... Mizoguchi's focus on the plight of his women characters is as intent and heart-rending as ever."

Time Out | full review