Monday, 30 May 2016

I've Just Seen: Princess Yang Kwai-Fei (Yōkihi) (1955)

Princess Yang Kwai-Fei (Yōkihi) (1955)

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi

This is the second Mizoguchi film I have seen, and while is it not as powerful as Sansho the Bailiff, it has a similar interest in the plight of women, and their role in society. As many of my favourite novels are on this topic, I knew I would enjoy this film.

Princess Yang Kwai-Fei focuses on the goings-on of Emperor Xuan Zong's court, where the Emperor is grieving over the death of his beloved wife. The court is secretly scouting for a new consort for the king, and find her in the shape of Yang Kwai-Fei, a servant and distant relative of the powerful Yang family. The plan works, and the Emperor and Kwai-Fei fall in love, but an up-rising happens when the Yang family begin to exert too much power.

Though not an essential film to watch, Mizoguchi's film is a sweet and sad story which recalls Cinderella in its premise, and the darker versions of Western fairytales (where sacrifice and death are central to the plot).

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