The Water Magician, a Mizoguchi Kenji silent classic, tells a tragic love story of an independent young female water juggler, Taki no Shiraito. After an accidental meeting on the road with an orphaned carriage driver, Murakoshi Kinya, she falls in love with him and pledges to put him through law school. Fate eventually brings the two to court on murder charges, resulting in a tragic end. Despite being a typical Mizoguchi rendition of a heroine who devotedly sacrifices herself for the success of the man she loves, the film was a star vehicle for Irie Takako, a very popular star of the period, known for her beauty and noble background. She was also the first actress to create her own production company, and this film was one of its productions.
Reconsidered as an “Irie” film, the film asks for a different interpretation. Especially, note the first half of the film that reveals the heroine’s sensual desire in a quite explicit manner, captivating Irie’s radiant passion as a rare blend of modern and traditional beauty. Once a simple traditional shinpa melodrama, the film now looks like a heroic tale of l’amour fou of a woman who, despite her seeming submission to law, fights against her fate by pursuing her own desire. We present the film’s restored version (the extant longest and best quality print available), with the benshi narration by Sawato Midori, whose performance will shed subtle light on the heroine’s intricate emotions.
MIZOGUCHI Kenji MIZOGUCHI Kenji