The Downfall of Osen (Orizuru Osen)
Dir. Kenji Mizoguchi. 1935, 87 mins. 35mm print from the National Film Center (Tokyo). With Isuzu Yamada, Daijiro Natsukawa. After their unscrupulous master is arrested, servant girl Osen and penniless young Sokichi must fend for themselves. They live together in straightened circumstances in Meiji-era Tokyo, and Osen’s love drives her to pay Sokichi’s way through medical school, finally turning to secret streetwalking on his behalf. Told in an elaborate flashback structure, The Downfall of Osen has been singled out as a transitional film that bridges Mizoguchi’s early and middle periods, as well as the silent and sound eras—the voiceover was recorded by one of Japan’s traditional benshi narrators.
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