Mizoguchi's Aienkyo

Bill Thompson siswt
Mon Aug 13 18:39:24 EDT 2001

Joanne, David, KineJapan,

Nearly two decades ago the Japan Society in New York presented
a nearly complete retrospective of surviving Mizoguchi works.
If I recall correctly, at that time I asked and was told that
only one existant Mizoguchi film was not included.  Probably
it was Aienkyo ("Straits of Love and Hope").  The reason
for its exclusion involved complications concerning the person
who held the rights at that time -- he may have wanted
too much money and/or special treatment for the film;
possibly he wanted someone to pay for a new print.
Perhaps Peter Grilli, who was in charge of the Japan Society's
Japan Film Center at that time, might have more knowledge.

This may begin to explain why Aienkyo is less prominent
in the Mizoguchi canon.

Bill Thompson

From: Bernardi-Buralli <dburall1 at rochester.rr.com>
To: <KineJapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu>
Subject: Re: Mizoguchi's Aienkyo


It could be that it has been overshadowed by the tremendous legacy of the
preceding, and first two films that Mizoguchi made based on scripts by Yoda
Yoshikata: Naniwa Erejii and Gion no shimai. Yoda said in an interview once
that he was responsible for writing the manzai bits, and that Kawaguchi
Matsutaro (he is credited with having written the "gensaku") really didn't
have much to do with it. (This is probably true of a lot of work attributed
to Kawaguchi, but actually written by Yoda). Perhaps someone from the Kansai
area knows the answers to your questions. I wonder too if the relative
obscurity of Aienkyo has anything to do with it being a different studio
(Shinko Kinema) than the first two (Daiichi eiga). Another possibility:
although it features the talented actress Yamaji Fumiko, perhaps Isuzu
Yamada's (longer career, more "popular"?) presence in the first two films
contributed to the greater exposure for Naniwa Ereji (KJ #3) and Gion no
Shimai (KJ #1, Aienkyo was KJ #3 for it's year).

While English subbed prints and videos of "Naniwa" and "Gion" are rampant
outside of Japan, that's not true for Aienkyo, which gets decidedly less
exposure in Japan as well.  I only saw it once at a Film Center screening in
Tokyo. I wonder if, when Mizoguchi became popular in Europe and the US in
the 1950s, only Naniwa and Gion made it to the international circuit?

Some attribute that "anti-authoritarian" and  "strongly feminist" tone to
Yoda--it does seem to be more prominent in Mizoguchi's work after he started
working with Yoda. But then, there are alot of earlier Mizoguchi films that
are believed lost. Just some random thoughts.

Joanne Bernardi
U of Rochester

From: "David Hopkins" <hopkat at sa2.so-net.ne.jp>
Reply-To: KineJapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2001 10:09:14 +0900
To: "kinejapan" <kinejapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu>
Subject: Mizoguchi's Aienkyo

I got to see this film at Planet plus One in Osaka on Sunday and was
tremendously impressed with its strongly feminist and anti-authoritarian
stance. Why isn't this better known? I looked it up in Richie and Anderson
and thought that they probably had not seen it, since the description didn't
match well on a couple of key points.

A couple of questions.
The film depicts a style of "manzai" I have never seen before, which
featured not only the punning cross-talk usually associated with manzai but
also a lot of song snippets and a melodrama-farce. How typical is this? In
Ise Mairi (?), for example, Miss Wakana and company only do the cross-talk
style (Abbott and Costello are American manzai, for comparison.)

Why isn't this more prominent in the Mizoguchi canon? A 1937 film with these
themes should be better known....

David Hopkins

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