chapter  6
12 Pages

History Through Cinema: Mizoguchi Kenji’s The Life of O-Haru (1952)

ByJOAN MELLEN

From the early 1920s when he began to direct silent films, Mizoguchi Kenji was a revolutionary filmmaker whose every shot embodied his belief that injustice exposed was vulnerable to challenge. ‘The films of Mizoguchi are meditations on man, posed in terms of mise-en-scène’, French critic Philippe Sablon observed in Cahiers du Cinéma in May 1959. Human nature could be understood best by being observed in a particular historical and social context. The methodology most appropriate to studying Mizoguchi’s films is one of analyzing the intersection between his characters and the moment in history in which the film is set. His period films, in turn, reverberate upon the historical moment in which Mizoguchi made the film.