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The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums

残菊物語 (Zangiku monogatari)
Japan 1939. Dir: Kenji Mizoguchi. 143 min. DCP

NEW RESTORATION | Mizoguchi’s emotional epic, a gorgeous period piece set in the world of Kabuki theatre in late-19th-century Japan, is one of his most moving explorations of female self-sacrifice (a favourite Mizoguchi theme). When mediocre actor Kiku (Shotaro Hanayagi), spoiled scion of a famed Kabuki family, falls for Otoku (Kakuko Mori), a humble servant, it leads to his estrangement from the family and a life of poverty and hardship. Only through Otoku’s devotion and selflessness does Kiku begin to build a successful acting career for himself. Mizoguchi’s miraculous melodrama, made up of masterfully mobile long-take sequence shots (a Mizoguchi trademark), is a majestic accomplishment and ranks amongst his very finest works. “The Mizoguchi of Sisters of the Gion and The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums is no doubt the greatest of all Japanese directors” (Noël Burch).

REVIEWS

"Kenji Mizoguchi’s early masterwork .... No film has captured with more insight, pathos, and black comedy a devoted wife internalizing her husband’s creative conscience."

Film Comment | full review

"One of the cinema’s great outpourings of imaginative energy."

New Yorker | full review