How does one talk about Mizoguchi without falling into a double trap: the jargon of the specialist or that of the humanist?
/ commerce /
Money signifies both oppression and possibility.
Mizoguchi frequently cross fades on the exchange of money for goods, but goods are always associated with dreams. In UGETSU these are the dreams of men: selfish delusions that ignore and destroy their own reality. The dreamer empties his pockets, not merely to purchase the samurai armor, but to buy his way into his fantasy of nobility.
Slow cross-fade: The abandoned wife is raped by a gang of soldiers (the very samurai her husband is anxious to join). Mizoguchi draws close to the emptying of coins from a pouch. A mannerism that repeats the purchase of the armor. The rape legitimized for the soldiers through this cruel financial exchange.
/ dreams /
Dreams and fantasy are triggered by objects to be purchased.
The fantasy sequences are given their unreal quality through the absence of money. The ghost house of a fallen noble family is pure erotic bliss where money is no object, even when destitute.
But perhaps the greatest move in UGETSU is when Genjuro returns home to his wife. What at first feels like a new Zen acceptance of one's poverty gives way to the uneasiness of the fantasy.She is dead. None of this is real.
Dreams are haunted by commerce, especially in its conspicuous absence.
Mizoguchi is not only after the corruption of greed, but of the hideousness of want.
Who else makes films in this way? Who else films dreams / want / commerce / oppression?
Abel Ferrara comes to mind. I am thinking of course of NEW ROSE HOTEL and GO GO TALES.