TWELVE

Stories without Borders

Ugetsu

Kenji Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu (Japan, 1953)1 is a classic film that takes its inspiration not only from Japanese theater and history, but from a French short story by Guy de Maupassant and classic Japanese ghost stories which were in turn influenced by ancient Chinese fiction. Although Akira Kurosawa is the Japanese filmmaker most American film lovers know well today, Kurosawa himself felt that Kenji Mizoguchi was Japan’s greatest filmmaker. Unlike Kurosawa, who repeatedly adapted world literature for a world audience, Mizoguchi made his films for Japanese audiences. It is largely due to the greatness of Mizoguchi’s artistry that they resonate with audiences throughout the world.

In the 1950s, Mizoguchi adapted ...

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