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Kenji Mizoguchi's masterful ghost story about a sixteenth-century potter who abandons his faithful wife (Kinuyo Tanaka) for a spectral seductress (Machiko Kyo) has been acclaimed as one of the greatest films of all time.
Ugetsu invariably turns up on critics' lists of the greatest films in the history of cinema. (Eric Rohmer chose it as his favourite Japanese film.) In a sixteenth-century village, a potter is seduced away from his wife by an exquisitely beautiful woman who turns out to be a phantom. Mizoguchi's rigorous compositions and camerawork, his use of the mist-enshrouded landscape around Lake Biwa, the theme of the illusory nature of human ambition and desire, and the intense performances of two of Japan's greatest actresses — Kinuyo Tanaka, as the potter's wronged wife, and Machiko Kyo as the spectral seductress — all contribute to a work of infinite beauty and significance. "Its stylistic perfection and the rich overtones of its theme make Ugetsu one of the most beautiful films of all time" (Georges Sadoul); "Simultaneously realistic, allegorical and supernatural, Ugetsu is the most stylistically perfect of all Mizoguchi's work, and many critics consider it the greatest Japanese film ever made" (David L. Cook).