Synopsis by Jonathan Crow
Kenji Mizoguchi's final film was on one of his favorite subjects: prostitutes. After a spate of universally lauded period pieces, Mizoguchi returned to the socially conscious dramas that he made famous in the 1930s. Here, as in Osaka Elegy (1936), he offered a scathing critique of society's hypocrisies and exploitative treatment of women, without the sort of transcendence seen in Life of Oharu (1952). This gritty drama of six working girls in one brothel in Tokyo's Yoshiwara red-light district explores how the women came to work in such a place -- trying to pay for their children's education, trying to bail their fathers out of prison, trying to support their out-of-work husbands -- and how they fight to maintain their dignity in spite of the degradations of their profession. Machiko Kyo gives a remarkable performance as Mickey, a cynical hooker with a heart of stone, who shames and then cruelly propositions her own father, while Aiko Mimasu plays the aging Yumeko, who is emotionally shattered after her son rejects her. This film was reportedly instrumental in the outlawing of prostitution in Japan.
Japanese [nationality], brothel, abuse, prostitute/prostitution, love
High Historical Importance