Adapted from Monzaemon Chikamatsu's 17th Century puppet play "The Almanac Maker's Tale," set in Kyoto in 1683, A Story of Chikamatsu is a sad, sad love tale of the clerk Mohei (Kazuo Hasegawa) & the merchant's wife Osan (Kyoko Kagawa) falsely charged with having an affair.
The cruel, miserly husband Ishun (Eitaro Shindo) drives the two together by his very accusation, while himself harrassing the housemaid Otama (Yoko Manimida) who lives in terror of his threatening interest in her. Mohei & Osan's eventual attempt to run away together fails, as both are captured & crucified.
The cinematography is alone sufficient to make this film a classic in its visual beauty. The well-known story proceeds at a deliberate pace, & when the couple are captured, their ride on horseback to their crucifixion is a gorgeous teary tragedy that could scarsely be presented any more slowly, but never for a moment flags for edge-of-the-seat attention-holding.
The combination of sentimentality & vicious injustice is all but uniquely a trait of Japanese cinema. The emotional impact of A Story of Chikamatsu would have been unbearable but for the mannered acting style that makes it all seem like a ghostly reenactment of something that happened long ago, or a bit of religious mummury depicting suffering divinities of love & obligation.
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