Greatest Film Scenes
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Chikamatsu Monogatari (1954, Jp.)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Chikamatsu Monogatari (1954, Jp.) (aka The Crucified Lovers, or A Chikamatsu Story)

In director filmmaker Mizoguchi's romantic drama, based on a 1715 Japanese puppet theatre play (bunraka or jurori), it was a passionate tale of star-crossed lovers who were involved in a forbidden adulterous love affair that also involved financial scandal, jealousy and rigid feudal duties, roles, and social norms:

  • the film opened in feudal Japan in 1693 in Kyoto, at the scroll-making, printing factory of wealthy miserly, but reputable older nobleman Ishun (Eitaro Shindo); his business included an exclusive contract for the Royal Palace's calendars, and he was nervous about any scandal or gossip in the business community that would ruin his prosperity
  • meanwhile, Ishun's younger wife Osan (Kyoko Kagawa) was approached by her indebted brother Gifuya Dôki (Haruo Tanaka) for a monetary loan of five kan (five gold coins, a very small amount); he stressed that he would be jailed in three days if he defaulted; to prevent scandal regarding her family's finances, Osan was too embarrassed to ask her husband Ishun for the money, knowing that her stingy and ruthless husband would refuse to provide any further financial support (ultimately an unwise decision) to her family since Osan's dowry was very expensive, and she had married him for his money and he had already helped her poverty-stricken family
  • meanwhile, Ishun was pressuring his young maid Otama (Yôko Minamida) to be his mistress by sexually advancing on her when he would periodically visit her room to ply her with promises of wealth: ("Think about what you will gain...I promise you a life of luxury"); to resist and avoid him (begging "Take pity on me"), Otama claimed, deceptively to avoid him, that she was "engaged and getting married" to Mohei (Kazuo Hasegawa), Ishun's top employee and meek trusted apprentice-assistant
  • later, when Otama asked Mohei's official permission to deceptively claim (as an excuse) that she was engaged to him so that Ishun wouldn't molest her ("Can you tell him we're engaged and getting married?"), he refused to lie for her; he insisted instead that she let herself be dutifully raped as Ishun's contracted employee ("Keep it a secret. Don't tell anyone. This is a servant's duty"); Otama and Mohei also agreed that telling Osan about her profligate husband's infidelity would cause an unwanted scandal and ruin the family's reputation
  • suddenly, Otama and Mohei were called to the street to watch the crucifixion of an adulterous couple led to their deaths on horseback during a parade - it was a shameful crime that was worthy of capital punishment at the time, and a foreshadowing of the film's tragic conclusion; Otama asked Mohei about the double standard: "Why are women punished while men are allowed to commit adultery?"
A Convicted and Crucified Pair of Adulterers: A Samurai's Wife and Servant
  • after Osan asked a favor of Mohei who took care of her husband's business accounts - to acquire the money to pay her brother's debt, Mohei made an attempt to steal some of Ishun's money by putting his master's seal on a blank monetary payment note; however, he was seen by greedy head clerk Sukeimon (Saka Ozawa) (who asked for half of the amount to keep quiet); Mohei decided to come clean and reported directly to Ishun, by openly presenting his master with the blank note and requesting a loan; Ishun was enraged: "Why did you do it?"

(l to r): Master Employer Ishun with Trusted Employee Mohei

Mohei Stamping a Blank Payment Note with the Master's Seal

The Head Clerk Sukeimon Questioning Mohei's Stamped Blank Note

Otama Falsely Claiming That She Was to Blame - She Needed the Money

Osan Begged Her Husband Ishun to Not Punish Mohei

Ishun: "These two are in love and they betrayed me!"
  • Mohei was unjustly accused of wrongdoing, even though Otama claimed that she was the one who had asked Mohei to lend her the money (for her old jobless and suicidal samurai uncle), and Osan begged her husband to take pity; Mohei confessed to the fraud-crime; Ishun had finally found his opportunity to punish his romantic rival (for Otama's romantic interest): "These two are in love and they betrayed me!" - he exclaimed
  • after being intensely humiliated, Mohei was cruelly punished by Ishun and locked up in a hatch within a storeroom
  • Osan came to Otama to apologize ("It was all my fault") and thank her for trying to help shield Mohei from Ishun's anger; she was surprised when Otama told her that her husband had been trying to sexually abuse her: ("He is constantly torturing me. He wants to buy me a house, to take advantage of me. To protect myself, I lied and made up that we were engaged to Mohei. That's why he's so mad at me"); the irony was that Ishun, who promised Otama a house, wouldn't even help her elderly relative
  • to catch her husband sneaking into Otama's bedroom, Osan took Otama's place for the night; Mohei escaped that evening and crept into Otama's dark night chamber to thank her: "You've done me a huge favor by protecting the lady"; he was totally shocked when in the light, he realized he was speaking to Osan; she explained she was there to catch her cheating husband "red-handed"; she promised: "I'm going to have a serious talk with him to save you and Otama"; she blamed herself for Mohei's predicament, before he fled to save himself after Sukeimon reported that he saw him speaking to Osan
  • due to misunderstandings and the chain of events, Ishun (the real guilty person in the film) now suspected a secret and illicit relationship between his wife Osan and Mohei, when he heard she had been hiding in Otama's bedroom and was seen there with Mohei; he accused her of infidelity: "You wanted to sleep with him, didn't you?"
  • for the second time in the film, the unforgiving Ishun falsely accused someone of wrongdoing; to avoid an adultery scandal, Ishun encouraged Osan to commit suicide as part of her duty, and provided her with a knife: ("You know what someone in your position should do?"); she refused and escaped - and joined Mohei to evade police (Mohei had already been accused of stealing Ishun's seal); she realized her husband was duplicitous ("Lika a fool, I was unaware of everything until now"); their flight actually implicated the two as being adulterous lovers, and Mohei worried: "They're going to crucify us"
  • the two (posing as a lady and servant who resided in different rooms to avoid charges of adultery) decided they might escape to Osaka
  • back at the "Great Publisher's" home, and at Osan's mother's home, there were concerns that if the two were found by police, they would be charged as adulterers, and both houses would suffer with the loss of "dignity" and assets
  • Osan feared being caught: ("I would rather die than be caught...I don't want to run away anymore. I can't live with this shame"); Mohei identified them as a brother and sister before fleeing to the mountainous area around Lake Biwa
Osan Contemplating a Drowning Suicide in Lake Biwa
  • Osan considered committing suicide by having Mohei bind her legs and throw her into Lake Biwa; as he was preparing her for death, he confessed his love for her: "I have always loved you with all my being"; she responded that what he had told her changed things - they truly loved each other and must remain alive: "What you just said changed everything...I don't want to die anymore. I want to live!"
  • Ishun later reported that he had heard rumors that Mohei and Osan had committed a double-suicide by throwing themselves into Lake Biwa; he instructed his clerk Sukeimon to find the bodies (that might be hugging each other) and separate them to avoid a scandalous "disaster"
  • during an intense search for them, Osan was worried that Mohei was leaving her; in the woods of Mount Atago, she chased after him and pledged her love for him: "You are no longer a servant, you are my husband. You are my master" - and he promised to never leave her again
  • while hiding out at the home of Mohei's father, Sukeimon (dispatched by Ishun) arrived to kidnap Osan - to bring her back home and cover-up her rumored 'adulterous' behavior, while Mohei was temporarily held captive by his father to await detention by Kyoto police; the couple was very unhappily separated
  • Mohei was set free by his father and escaped; meanwhile, Osan was being detained at her family's home because she refused to return home to her 'forgiving' master-husband; her parents begged her to forget Mohei and go back to her husband: ("If you try to forget him, go home, you'd do your best...You will return to your husband, you have no choice")
  • Mohei reunited with her (Osan vowed: "We will never part again") and rescued her from making a choice; he told her mother: "I came her to take Osan," although her mother objected: "Stop the nonsense. You idiots!" and asked for Mohei to surrender to police to save everyone ("Do this for Osan!"); instead; the two fled together as a search party arrived; soon after, they were caught by Kyoto police and voluntarily confessed to the crime of adultery
  • in the film's downbeat conclusion, government officials found Ishun guilty of deception: (he had "failed to report the crime of adultery pertaining to his wife and employee Mohei"); the government punished him by seizing and confiscating his property, and banishing him to exile (along with Sukeimon for his dishonesty)
  • the two adulterers (holding hands together) were paraded through town on horseback on their way to being crucified - they were happily holding hands
The Two Lovers Sentenced to Crucifixion For Adultery

Ishun's Wife Osan with Her Indebted Brother Doki

Ishun's Unwanted Advances upon His Pretty Young Maid Otama

Otama with Worker Mohei - Asking Him If She Could Use the Excuse that They Were Engaged

Osan Requesting Mohei To Acquire Money to Pay Her Brother's Debt

Osan Apologizing and Thanking Otama For Shielding Mohei From Her Husband's Anger - Otama Told Osan About Being "Taken Advantage of" by Her Husband Ishun

Osan Hiding in Otama's Bed Chamber to Catch Her Husband Cheating - She Was Confronted by a Surprised Mohei After He Had Escaped

Ishun Charging His Wife Osan With Having an Affair with Mohei

Ishun Offering His Wife Osan a Knife to Commit Suicide

Osan in Flight with Mohei

Osan Hugging and Embracing Mohei on the Lake - "I want to live!"

Hugging Each Other on the Ground (Osan: "You are my husband!")

Mohei and Osan Reunited at Her Family's Home Before Escaping Together


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