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The Story of the Late Chrysanthemums

Posted by martinteller on April 10, 2008

I’ve been wanting to see this for years, ever since I saw Sansho the Bailiff back in 2003. I loved it, and most of the subsequent Mizoguchi films I saw, but I always heard that this one was his finest. So when I finally got my hands on a decent copy, there were some pretty high expectations to live up to. And, well, I have to admit I’m a bit underwhelmed. It’s the best of his pre-war films that I’ve seen (which aren’t that many) but I didn’t like it as much as the stuff from the late 40’s/early 50’s. But don’t get me wrong, it’s an excellent movie. The craftsmanship is wonderful, some very dramatic angles and expressive camera language (although there were a few rather dull shots too). And the acting, costumes, music are superb. The story touches on themes of loyalty and integrity in ways that are poignant. It just didn’t quite have that extra something to put it over the top for me. The ending is quite moving, though you can really see it coming a mile away. So, there are better Mizoguchi movies, but this one certainly is worth watching. I’d especially like to see a restored print (c’mon Criterion!). Rating: 8


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