Melodrama, tears, and life of Oharu

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

Abstract

Many of Mizoguchi’s films portray suffering women, but Life of Oharu (1952) may surpass all his others in the depth of suffering portrayed. The film features a young woman, Oharu, who is the daughter of an Imperial samurai. After a brief relationship with a lower class man, her family is exiled from the Imperial court. This event starts a series of misfortunes which, through many episodes, push her down the social ladder and track her moral descent. Ultimately, in her old age, she is reduced to a pathetic, elderly beggar. The film’s tone straightforwardly reflects its subject matter: it is quite sad to watch Oharu systematically destroyed and left with no sense of a brighter future. Yet, other films have portrayed similarly tragic events but fail to move their audience. In this paper, I will discuss various theories of how a film’s narrative structure can affect its ability to generate sadness, and analyze how Oharu arranges its narration in a particularly effective manner towards this end.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-11
Number of pages1
Journal16:9: filmtidsskrift
Volume2
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes

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