Street of Shame
(Akasen chitai)

Introduction by Donald Richie
Screening on Film
Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi.
With Machiko Kyo, Aiko Mimasu, Ayako Wakao.
Japan, 1956, 35mm, black & white, 87 min.
Japanese with English subtitles.

American-born novelist, essayist, and film scholar Donald Richie has been a resident of Japan for more than half a century. His numerous books on Japanese culture (including The Inland Sea and A Lateral View: Essays on Culture and Style in Contemporary Japan) and cinema (among them, Japanese Cinema: An Introduction and Ozu) have been instrumental in bringing an understanding of Japanese society and cinema to Western audiences and remain classics in the field. For this special event, Richie will provide an introduction to Street of Shame, Kenji Mizoguchi's classic Japanese melodrama.

In his last film, Mizoguchi once again sympathetically presents the problems of women struggling under the constraints of a patriarchal society. In Dreamland, a contemporary Tokyo brothel, prostitutes use different approaches to try to survive their difficult lives inside and outside the brothel, while the people around them debate whether or not politicians should pass anti-prostitution legislation. Though ultimately quite pessimistic, with an unforgettably tragic final shot, the film is credited in part with prompting the passing of an anti-prostitution bill in Japan.