The Tears of Things: Life of Oharu, 1952

Tanaka Kinuyo as Oharu

Today is the first session of Christophs seminar about Japanese cinema and he´s showing Mizoguchi Kenji´s immortal Saikaku Ichidai Onna (The Life of Oharu). A brillant ressource for this movie is Helmut Färbers legendary shot by shot description of the work. Here´s by Jonathan Rosenbaum: “Above all, it is a materialist analysis –- a depiction of woman treated, traded, valued, degraded, and discarded as material object: the inspection of Kyoto’s “most beautiful” women by Matsudaira’s servant (delineated in one lengthy tracking shot), periodically checking the details of his model drawing against the “specimens” offered; the remarkable subplot of the vulgar big-spender at the Shimabara brothel, who throws fistfuls of coins to watch the courtesans fight and scramble –- valuing Oharu “highest” because she refuses to participate, and then purchasing her as a consequence –- and cackling “Money is everything”, before being unveiled as a counterfeiter;(…) The obi (sash) that Oharu’s husband is clutching when he is killed is subsequently discarded in a strip tease where she “pays” Yakichi for his material by throwing it at him, offering her body at the same time.”
I will expand on cinematic things and thingness later on, when Christoph gets to show Ozu; for now go see Tanakas stunning performance, it´s an essential cinematic experience. As affective labour is permeating all working relations, Oharu´s fate becomes ever more contemporary: the parabolic trajectory of a thing that feels and which loses it´s value but not it´s poise during a spectacular fall from grace.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *