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Two films by Mizoguchi #4 (Masters of Cinema) in May

Eureka Entertainment have announced the UK DVD release of their fourth Kenji Mizoguchi double-bill Akasen Chitai + Yokihi as part of their Masters of Cinema Series on 25th May 2008 priced at £24.99. The fourth and final release in a series of double-bill releases, this set pairs Mizoguchi's highly respected final film, Akasen Chitai, with a lesser known rarity, Yokihi, made a year earlier and one of only two films Mizoguchi made in colour - both on DVD in the UK for the very first time.

Akasen Chitai [Red Light District, aka Street of Shame] – sadly, the very last film by Kenji Mizoguchi – presents a vivid portrait of prostitution in 1950s Japan.

In a Tokyo brothel named Dreamland — an obvious irony given the faded hopes of those who work there — the lives of five prostitutes intersect. Each has a very different story for how they entered the profession, but what they share is the struggle to make sense of the red light district and its cycle of exploitation.

Filmed shortly before the Japanese government’s introduction of an anti-prostitution bill, Akasen Chitai is a compelling study of women torn between financial necessity and questions of conscience. It was nominated for the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, and inspired French critic Jean Douchet to proclaim: “For me, along with Chaplin’s Monsieur Verdoux and Renoir’s La Règle du Jeu, the greatest film in the history of cinema”.

Set many centuries ago, Yokihi [Imperial Concubine Yang, aka Yang Kwei Fei] recounts the Chinese legend referred to in its title.

In eighth-century T’ang China, widowed Emperor Hsüan-tsung (Masayuki Mori) reigns alone, devoting his life to the composition of music. When he meets and falls in love with a beautiful young woman (Machiko Kyo), who will become his imperial concubine, a tale of political intrigue and rival dynasties is set in motion, with ultimately tragic consequences. Sumptuously filmed in vibrant colour, Yokihi is the most ancient of Mizoguchi’s costume dramas, yet its central themes of passion, sorrow, and the conflict between love and power remain timeless — it was also nominated for the Golden Lion at Venice.

The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present these films for the first time on home video in the UK.

Features include:

  • 2 x disc special edition containing new transfers of both films
  • New and improved English subtitles
  • Full length Akasen Chitai audio commentary and a video discussion about Yokihi by acclaimed Japanese film expert/critic, festival programmer, and filmmaker Tony Rayns
  • Original theatrical trailers
  • 64-page booklet featuring writing by Keiko I. McDonald (author of Mizoguchi), Mark Le Fanu (author of Mizoguchi and Japan), Masako Nakagawa (author of The Yang Kuei-fei Legend in Japanese Literature), ninth-century poetry (A Song of Unending Sorrow) by Po Chü-i, and rare production stills

Last updated: 19/04/2018 00:01:23

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