|The Life of Oharu|
|Directed by||Kenji Mizoguchi|
|Based on|| The Life of an Amorous Woman |
by Saikaku Ihara
|Edited by||Toshio Gotō|
|Music by||Ichirō Saitō|
|148 minutes |
The Life of Oharu (西鶴一代女, Saikaku Ichidai Onna) is a 1952 Japanese historical fiction film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi from a screenplay by Yoshikata Yoda. It stars Kinuyo Tanaka as Oharu, a one-time concubine of a daimyō (and mother of a later daimyō) who struggles to escape the stigma of having been forced into prostitution by her father.  
The Life of Oharu is based on various stories from Ihara Saikaku's 1686 work The Life of an Amorous Woman . The film was produced by the Shintoho Company and executive produced by Isamu Yoshiji, with cinematography by Yoshimi Hirano. The production designer was Hiroshi Mizutani and Isamu Yoshi was the historical consultant.
The story opens on Oharu as an old woman in a temple flashing back through the events of her life. It begins with her love affair with a page, Katsunosuke, the result of which (due to their class difference) is his execution and her family's banishment. Oharu attempts suicide but fails and is sold to be the mistress of Lord Matsudaira with the hope she will bear him a son. She does, but then is sent home with minimal compensation to the dismay of her father, who has worked up quite a debt in the meantime. He sends her to be a courtesan, but there, too, she fails and is again sent home.
Oharu goes to serve the family of a woman who must hide the fact that she is bald from her husband. The woman becomes jealous of Oharu and makes her chop off her hair, but Oharu retaliates, revealing the woman's secret. She again must leave—this time she marries a fan maker who is killed shortly after during a robbery. She attempts to become a nun, but Oharu is thrown out after being caught naked with a man seeking reimbursement for an unauthorized gift (it is made clear this is rape by Oharu's claims and distraught demeanor). She is thrown out of the temple, becomes a prostitute, but fails even at that. In the end, she is recalled to the Lord's house to be exiled within the compounds to keep her secrets locked away. While being scolded for the life she chose, she attempts to find her son, and in the process, ends up running away as she chooses the life of a wandering nun over the life in exile.
The Life of Oharu won the International Prize at the 1952 Venice International Film Festival and was nominated for the Golden Lion.  The film (as well as the 1952 films Himitsu, Inazuma, and Okaasan ) won the 1953 Mainichi Film Concours award for best film score (Ichirō Saitō).
The Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa cited The Life of Oharu as one of his 100 favorite films. 
This article contains information about the literary events and publications of 1686.
This article contains information about the literary events and publications of 1682.
Kinuyo Tanaka was a Japanese actress and film director. She had a career lasting over 50 years with more than 250 acting credits, but was best known for her 15 films with director Kenji Mizoguchi, such as The Life of Oharu (1952) and Ugetsu (1953). With her 1953 directorial debut, Love Letter, Tanaka became the second Japanese woman to direct a film, after Tazuko Sakane.
Ihara Saikaku was a Japanese poet and creator of the "floating world" genre of Japanese prose (ukiyo-zōshi).
Kenji Mizoguchi was a Japanese film director and screenwriter, who directed about one hundred films during his career between 1923 and 1956. His most acclaimed works include The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums (1939), The Life of Oharu (1952), Ugetsu (1953), and Sansho the Bailiff (1954), with the latter three all being awarded at the Venice International Film Festival. A recurring theme of his films was the oppression of women in historical and contemporary Japan. Together with Akira Kurosawa and Yasujirō Ozu, Mizoguchi is seen as a representative of the "golden age" of Japanese cinema. David Thomson writes that "The use of camera to convey emotional ideas or intelligent feelings is the definition of cinema derived from Mizoguchi's films. He is supreme in the realization of internal states in external views." Orson Welles said of Mizoguchi, "He can't be praised enough, really."
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