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White Threads of the Waterfall
(Taki no Shiraito)

Screening on Film
Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi.
With Takako Irie, Tokihiko Okada.
Japan, 1933, 16mm, black & white, silent, 75 min.
Benshi soundtrack with English subtitles.

Considered by many as the most accomplished of Mizoguchi’s extant silent films, White Threads of the Waterfall offers his earliest exploration of the suffering heroine as emblem of tragic fatalism, here in the figure of a talented and ravishingly beautiful “water artist” who sacrifices her youth and career for the man she loves. Based on the stage version of a popular shinpa novel by Kyoka Izumi whose melodramatic imagination and frequently cutting depiction of Meiji-era Japan exerted a huge influence on Mizoguchi, White Threads of the Waterfall was the favorite film of the legendary benshi Midori Sawato (1925-87) who used the film to pass her art on to a new generation of katsuben.

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The Tales and Tragedies of Kenji Mizoguchi

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