Kinugasa's second film with his experimental theatre company, made two years after the better-known Page of Madness. At root, it's a simple melodrama about a young man's infatuation with a geisha, and his sister's frantic attempts to save him from himself. As such, it may seem too slow and over-emphatic for some tastes. But its imagery, lighting and montage effects are at least as daring as those in the earlier film, and fully the equal of anything done in the West at the time. Kinugasa's fidelity to physical realities (like breath misting in the freezing air and steam rising from sodden clothing) is often chilling, but his vision of the Yoshiwara pleasure district as a 'hell' of lights, shadows and frenetic movement also brings out his remarkable gifts as an expressionist. Certainly much more than an archive curiosity.
Cast and crew