Straits of Love and Hate (Aienkyo)
Dir. Kenji Mizoguchi. 1937, 108 mins. 35mm print from the National Film Center (Tokyo). With Fumiko Yamaji, Masao Shimizu. Set in a country inn in the northern mountains of Shinsu, ostensible shinpa (melodrama) adaptation Straits of Love and Hate also freely borrows elements from Leo Tolstoy’s Resurrection. After a servant is impregnated by her master’s son, they run away to Tokyo together. There he abandons her and the child, leaving her to turn to a career in prostitution and manzai comedy with a small traveling theater troupe. One of the most scarcely seen of Mizoguchi’s extant works, it has long been championed by critic Tony Rayns as one of his best.
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