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Jacques Rivette
Kenji Mizoguchi's 'The Life of Oharu' an enduring tale of struggle
Kenji Mizoguchi's 'The Life of Oharu' an enduring tale of struggle

When director Kenji Mizoguchi died of leukemia in 1956 he was 58 and a leading figure in world cinema, championed by members of the French New Wave, and the recipient of major prizes at the Venice Film Festival three years in a row. Along with Yasujiro Ozu and Akira Kurosawa, he defined the Japanese movie industry's golden age, but today his name is barely known to Western filmgoers, overshadowed by his two slightly younger contemporaries. In crucial ways, Mizoguchi's art is less quantifiable, perhaps less readily exportable than Ozu's minimalism or Kurosawa's emphatic action. His exacting and exquisitely expressive formalism favors mise-en-scène over such...

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