Does anyone recognise this film???

Jasper Sharp
Tue Dec 7 04:17:54 EST 1999

I just found this obscurity on video the other day, and couldn't find any
details on the director, what year it was made in, Japanese title or
suchlike. Has anyone seen it?

Misty (Japan 199?)
Yuki Amami, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Etsushi Toyokawa

A prologue has poor peasant girl Masogo (Yuki Amami) witnessing the murder
of her mother by a masked burglar with a red lizard-shaped birthmark on his
hand. Nineteen years later on we see her with her husband-to-be Takehiro
(Takeshi Kaneshiro) as he promises to protect her for the rest of her life.
His words prove rather inneffective when straight away a mirror salvaged
from the initial murder is plucked from Masugo's hand by a child thief. This
mirror eventually finds its way into the hands of long-haired bandit
Tajumaro (Etsushi Toyokawa), who stumbles across the young couple making
love. He then ties up Takehiro and rapes Masogo in front of her suitor's
eyes. As he does so a lizard shaped birthmark is seen by Masago on his hand,
before be breaks away into the night. Rather ungallantly, Takehiro reneges
on his former promise to Masogo; having been sullied he can no longer bring
himself to touch her, so kills himself. Or does he? In an alternate
narrative he is killed by Tajumaro. The following day the two survivors give
differing accounts of what actually happened.

And here is a perfect example of the difficulties of Japanese cinema for
Western audiences, and why more of it doesn't get a release over here. If
there was any point to this story it was certainly lost on me: I didn't have
a clue what was going on, and the above synopsis is basically a compromise
between my reading of the film, and my reading of the back of the video box.
It seems to owe something to 'Rashoman', but there are numerous problems
with this film which will cause much of it to go right over the heads of
non-Japanese audiences. Or at least I assume so; it might have been just as
tedious for the Japanese. From the blink-and-you'll-miss-it significance of
the mirror in the prologue to the perplexing shifts in both the voice and
tense of the narrative, this film seems almost designed to confuse. There's
seems to be a lot of visual symbolism which I obviously missed the
significance of, and periphery characters seem to pop in and out of the film
with little in the way of explanation or motivation.

The basic formula seems to be a reprisal of the rape/murder shown from
different perspectives under differing weather conditions. The
semi-mythological sylvan setting is well used and there are some beautiful
scenes here. One of the portrayals of the murder is shown in the form of a
duel between Tajumaro and Takehiro in an autumnal setting with dead leaves
swirling around in the foreground. Elsewhere the camera prowls around the
forest taking in the action, making good use of light and shadow in scenes
which were filmed in both studio and on location. The offhand portrayal of
violence against Masogo (neither titillatory nor realistic, merely
perfunctory), might prove a bit of an anathema to more Western audiences,
though obviously is integral to the plot. Still, as I mentioned, I feel I
missed out on a lot of the more culturally specific aspects of the film, so
the fact that I personally found it unrewarding and incredibly hard work,
might have little to do with the film itself.

As to the films origins, the above information was cobbled from box of the
Edko Video Ltd release, very little of which was written in English so I am
pretty sure I have got a lot of it wrong. I can find no trace of any of the
people involved in the production, and am unsure about the release date and
title. Given the synopsis however, this film is definitely not to be
confused with 'Evil Dead Trap' director Toshiharu Ikeda's film, 'Misty'

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