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The Life of Oharu 1952 / Saikaku ichidai onna film review

The Life of Oharu 1952 film review

The Life of Oharu (1952, Japan)

Original title
Saikaku ichidai onna
Running time
148 minutes
Our rating
★★★★★★★★★☆ 9 / 10

The film is set in the seventeenth century Japan, it tells the fate of Oharu, a beautiful, ambitious and talented girl from a wealthy family. Oharu serves at the imperial court, where she meets a samurai who comes from a lower social caste. They both fall in love and plan to escape, but their affair is discovered. According to strict Japanese law, her lover is executed, while Oharu and her family are exiled. Later Oharu becomes the lover of a rich feudal lord, Harutaki Matsudaira, who needs her to give him a son. Oharu is forced to do this by her father, she gave birth to his son, but when she began to get used to her new life, Harutaki throws her out. She is not welcomed in her family home and they sell her to a brothel, especially since her father needs money to pay off debts. Unfortunately in the brothel, as the courtesan, Oharu is experiencing many humiliations and can’t accept her fate. She is trying to be a servant at the Harutaki household again, but his envious wives will not let her return. Oharu’s next home is a family of rich merchants. At first everything is fine, but only until Oharu’s past as a courtesan is discovered.

This is a unique film, tastefully and subtly directed, shows the difficult life of a woman in patriarchal culture. This is a movie mostly for women, but also for everyone who is interested in Japanese culture. In fact, men’s lives at that times were not much better, in the face of all the prohibitions and orders, the caste system, and the absolute enforcement of the strict law. The film is well made, the actress playing main heroine deserves the highest rating. Also noteworthy is the performance Toshiro Mifune, who became the most famous and profitable Japanese actor in the world, especially in the United States.

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Creators of The Life of Oharu

Kenji Mizoguchi films

Kenji Mizoguchi


Kenji Mizoguchi films

Kenji Mizoguchi


Yoshikata Yoda films

Yoshikata Yoda


Cast of The Life of Oharu

Kinuyo Tanaka films

Kinuyo Tanaka

as Ohara

Jukichi Uno films

Jukichi Uno

as Yakichi Ogiya

Ichiro Sugai films

Ichiro Sugai

as Shinzaemon

Toshiaki Konoe films

Toshiaki Konoe

as Lord Harutaka Matsudaira

Kiyoko Tsuji films

Kiyoko Tsuji

as Landlady

Tsukie Matsura films

Tsukie Matsura

as Tomo

Toshiro Mifune films

Toshiro Mifune

as Katsunosuke

Benkei Shiganoya films

Benkei Shiganoya

as Jihei

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