Life Of Oharu, The

976. LIFE Of OHARU (1952-Japan). With KINUYO TANAKA, TOSHIRO MIFUNE. Directed by KEI MIZOGUCHI. One Of the enduring masterpieces Of world cinema, from the brilliant director Of “Ugetsu.” poignant, exquisitely filmed portrait Of a woman who is tragically victimized by the brutal strictures Of 17 century feudal Japanese society. Oharu, the beautiful daughter Of a samurai who serves the Imperial Court, expected to marry someone from her own class, but she falls in love with a petty servant. After the two; caught together, the man is executed, and Oharu, along with her parents, is exiled. Ashamed Of his family disgrace, Oharu’s father forces her to “redeem” herself by becoming the concubine Of a powerful Lord who needs someone to bear him a male heir. Once the child is born, however, Oharu is tossed out, and her father desperately needing money, makes her a courtesan. Although Oharu subsequently finds brief periods Of respectability, first as a working woman, then as a bourgeois wifeÑeach time a cruel twist Of fate sends her back onto the streets. She ends up as a common prostitute: aging, lonely, the subject Of ridicule, she lives out the rest Of her life with only bitter memories for companionship. Mizoguchi shows remarkable insight into the psychology Of his female protagonist, and photographs her sympathetically, almost lovingly with slow graceful, hauntingly beautiful camera movements that seem to embrace her as she follows her path to degdation. Critic Joan Mellen has called this “Mizoguchi’s greatest film . . . perhaps the finest film ever made any country about the oppression Of women.” It could also be said that OHARUIÕs one Of the finest films ever made, regardless Of subject. In Japanese with English subtitles. 136 minutes. Drama