I have just finished viewing Ugetsu Monogatari, directed by Keji Mizoguchi. Japanese films have been an interest of mine for some time so I was really excited to see this one, which is considered to be rivaled only by Seven Samurai to be the greatest Japanese film; and it is also considered to be one of the greatest films period.
Ugetsu tells the tale of two potters living in the 16th century who leave their village. One wants to become a samurai, the other hopes to sell his pots hoping to make a larger than usual profits to conflict. The film is most remembered for its presence of ghosts but it is much deeper than an average ghost story. Rather it is a delicate fable with a message delivered very effectively. What I find enjoyable about watching Japanese movies is that they provide insight into another culture, one Westerners usually find very alien. However, Ugetsu does much more than that; the message is universal which I think make it timeless.
Visualy the film is equally compelling. The sets, costumes, and props are all very well designed. I’m not someone who prefers black and white, but I can tolerate it and I feel Ugetsu is perfectly fine in that format. Had it been originally filmed in color I’m sure it would have been some pukey technicolor that would have taken away from the film, and colorizing rare comes out very well. It is also fortunate that it is subtitled and not dubbed, for simililar reasons. Films like Ugetsu are perfect just the way they are, and any attempt to “fix” their technological shortcomings would be too risky.
Overall I would say Ugetsu Monogatori is an excellent film and I highly recommend it.