Yoru no onnatachi

夜 の女たち - Yoru no onnatachi

Women of the night

DVD - 2008 | Japanese
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Two sisters, Fusako, a war widow, and Natsuko, in an affair with a narcotics smuggler, along with their younger friend Kumiko, descend into prostitution and moral chaos amid the postwar devastation surrounding them.
Publisher: [Irvington, N.Y.] : The Criterion Collection, 2008
ISBN: 9781604650938
Branch Call Number: JAPANESE DVD YORU NO
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (74 min.) : sound, black and white ; 4 3/4 in
Language Note: In Japanese with optional English subtitles
Alternative Title: Women of the night


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Jul 23, 2014

This is a 1948 Japanese drama directed by Kenji Mizoguchi (溝口健二), who is one of the greatest Japanese film-makers.
Mizoguchi is well-known for being a feminist director and his extensive filmography is full of studies of downtrodden Japanase women of both contemporary and past eras.
Although UGETSU (1953) and SANSHO THE BAILIFF (1954) are better than this film, which concerns women in trouble right after WWII, it is nevertheless an exceptionally well-made and moving drama with a typically excellent performance from Mizoguchi's regular actress---Kinuyo Tanaka (田中絹代).
Three post-war women (from the middle-aged Tanaka to a teenage acquaintance of hers) all gradually and unwillingly turn to prostitution to make ends meet.
It is quite amazing to know that the "women of the night" are reflection on the real situation in the post-war era.
In the women's shelter the kindly doctor helps one of the women when in labor, but delivers a stillborn child because of syphilis.
In the devastating final sequence, Tanaka literally tries to beat some sense into her sister when she joins her on the streets once more.
At this point the rest of the prostitutes either vent their anger against the seeking-right-track woman or take her side for seeking a way out of their profession.
In any case, it is a gripping, heart-wrenching and thought-provoking film.


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