Journal of Film Music, Vol 3, No 1 (2010)

Paths Between the Spiritual and the Real: On the Intersection of Musical Style, Symmetry, and Cycle in Kenji Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu (1953)

David Pacun
Issued Date: 22 Dec 2010


As is well known, Kenji Mizoguchi’s postwar masterpiece Ugetsu sets forth a complex layering of realms—dream world, spiritual world, underworld, reality, even the world of the “film itself.” Each realm is distinct, yet with transparent boundaries such that characters can pass between them. Moreover, broad cyclical patterns and symmetries in the dramatic structure both support the complex layering and integrate the narrative threads of the four main protagonists. This article explores the role of music, specifically musical style, in the creation of the film’s various realms. The article argues that music style enacts a rich web of associations that contributes to the film’s constantly shifting perspectives, and helps to articulate the cycles and symmetries that encompass both individual scenes and the film itself.

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DOI: 10.1558/jfm.v3i1.19


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