Presented in a manner as eerie as it is heartbreaking, this film is a gorgeous supernatural fable about the folly of men with dreams larger than their abilities and their women who suffer as a result. Genjuro (Masuyaki Mori) is a potter who longs for wealth and luxury, while Tobei (Sakae Ozawa), a farmer, dreams of the glories of the samurai to the point of ignoring his wife. Though a war rages around them, they venture to town to sell their wares. Genjuro becomes bewitched by a beautiful though vengeful ghost (Machiko Kyo), while his wife is murdered by a soldier; Tobei becomes a noted warrior, while his wife descends into prostitution after being raped while searching for her husband.
Life of Oharu features Kinuyo Tanaka in the title role. Oharu is a middle-aged prostitute in 17th century Japan. As she prays before a statue of Buddha, Oharu reviews her past. Her road to degradation began when, as a teenager, she disgraced her family by falling in love with a samurai (Toshiro Mifune). Oharu became the mistress of a prince, who cast her off after she bore his son. She was then sold into prostitution by her father, and thus began a catch-as-catch-can existence alternating between brief happiness with those she genuinely loved and servitude to those she despised. A potential happy ending, reuniting her with her royal son, is dashed by the much-maligned Oharu herself, who opts for the life of a beggar. Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, a lifelong advocate of equitable treatment for Japanese women, Life of Oharu was adapted from a novel by Saikaku Ibara.
A man returns from World War II to find his desperate wife has resorted to one night of prostitution to pay for their son's hospital bills.
Koibumi (love letter or love letters) is a melodrama about a sundered pair of lovers who meet again after the war and have to try to rebuild a relationship in the light of her occupation relationship with US servicemen. The title refers to the letters written by abandoned Japanese girls to their absent occupation force lovers declaring love - and asking for money. The bitter man of the pair ends up writing letters in English for a small sum and finds himself encountering his long lost love but has trouble dealing with her past and his own prejudices. Although this is not new territory for Japanese film makers it is a sensitive and powerful film and well worth watching.
Kinoshita's ambitious and intensely moving film begins as a multi-generational epic about the military legacy of one Japanese family, before settling into an emotionally complex portrayal of parental love during wartime. As the parents of a boy shipped off to battle, Kinuyo Tanaka and Chishu Ryu locate profound depths of feeling that transcend ideology.
This valiant melodrama is the brilliant debut as a moviemaker of the great Japanese actress Kinuyo Tanaka, who also has a small role in the story. Based on a screenplay by Keinosuke Kinoshita, "Koibumi" explore the wounds of war, the limits of love and the need to forgive. A sad and troubled man, Reikichi Mayumi (Masayuki Mori), finds a new job five years after the end of WWII.