Of the countless films director Kenji Mizoguchi made over his career, The Life of Oharu is said to be among his favourites, and Criterion’s welcome home release of his 1952 masterpiece is proof of both its aesthetic quality and narrative power. The eponymous Oharu (Kinuyo Tanaka) is a young noblewoman in seventeenth-century Japan who falls for the affections of Katsunosuke (Toshirō Mifune), whose low rank bars them from marrying. They elope, but their Shakespearean romance is cut short when the lovers are caught on the run.

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