A while back, I was asked to recommend a movie about a potter or pottery. The first question I asked was, something in the fiction or non-fiction category. He replied, fiction, something like Ghost. That of course ruled out all of the documentaries I could think, as well as THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and LAST OF THE MOHICANS which prominently feature hand made pottery. What sprung to mind is my favorite potter movie of all time.
UGETSU MONOGATARI (1953) is a phenomenal Japanese cinematic masterpiece by director Mizoguchi Kenji and starring Mori Masayuki and Machi Kyo. The title means; “Tales of the Moon and Rain” and is about a Momoyama era potter and the turmoil of the age. Briefly stated, the film is about two men, one a potter and the other a farmer who wants to be a samurai. It is an exceptionally filmed movie with great performances all around, great sets, scenery and costumes and a great story.
Weeks later, I heard back from my friend who immediately let me know that Ugetsu is nothing like Ghost and wondered what was I thinking. After taking just a moment to think about it, UGETSU MONOGATARI is in fact, very much like Ghost, a love story with extras. If you haven’t seen this movie and have a passing interest in Japanese cinema, than you owe it to yourself to see this film. It truly is Japanese cinema and Mizoguchi at his best.