Monday, March 19, 2007


After leaving Sunshine at the Smithsonian yesterday, I took the metro all the way out to Silver Springs again to screen Kenji Mizoguchi's Sisters of the Gion (Gion No Shimai*) at AFI's Silver Theater.* It was twenty-two degrees and windy in Maryland, but it wasn't snowing (like every other time I've traveled up there; like it had been doing when I'd boarded the train). Sisters of the Gion rather candidly--for 1936--presents the lives of sibling geishas working in Kyoto's famed pleasure district (the Gion mentioned in the title). Despite being related, there are few similarities between the two women. One is traditional and kind, offering a ruined local businessman shelter in their little flat after he's kicked out of his own. The other sister is misanthropic and conniving, using her bluster and modern sensibility to jettison the freeloader from their property, ostensibly for her older sister's benefit. These cynical machinations end, of course, in tragedy all around. The thrill of the movie comes from watching a master filmmaker begin to come into his own. Mizoguchi is roundly numbered among the world's greatest directors, and Sisters of the Gion displays his first bold steps into what became his signature style. Mizoguchi* is known for long, fluid takes--following characters from place to place, or tracking multiple actions occurring simultaneously within a single set. Often he would make a movie with only one shot per scene, a difficult and stagy presentation that he often pulled off with evenhanded grace and naturalism. He also employed a vérité point-of-view camera style that frequently roves outside to witness the streets of pre-WWII Japan. The movie is a wonder of documentation far beyond the scope its fairly modest plot. And Maryland was still beyond modestly windy and cold after the movie ended. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

Post a Comment

<< Back to the Beginner.
<< To main Update page.