Cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa
Japan’s most renowned cinematographer, Kazuo Miyagawa came to film after studying traditional Japanese ink painting, training that influenced his professed desire “to use the camera to paint on film, to bring rhythm and music to camerawork, and to continue writing poetry in the tone.” That artistry is on display in some of the towering masterworks of Japan’s cinematic golden age. For Akira Kurosawa’s international breakthrough, RASHOMON, Miyagawa shot directly into the sun to achieve a glinting, abstracted dynamism. For Kenji Mizoguchi’s sublime period tragedies UGETSU and SANSHO THE BAILIFF, he composed gorgeously fluid long takes that unfurl like scroll paintings. To Yasujiro Ozu’s late-career jewel FLOATING WEEDS he lent exquisite framing and magisterial color. And for Kon Ichikawa’s stunningly ambitious TOKYO OLYMPIAD, he created a breathtaking meditation on bodies in motion. Miyagawa’s work with these celebrated auteurs is presented alongside some of the wildly entertaining action films he photographed, including installments of the popular ZATOICHI and LONE WOLF AND CUB series, which further showcase his extraordinary versatility.
Cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa Teaser
John Bailey on Kazuo Miyagawa
Cinematographer John Bailey explores the art of Japan’s most famous cameraman, director of photography for Kurosawa, Ichikawa, Mizoguchi and more.
Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1950 • Japan
Starring Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori
A riveting psychological thriller that investigates the nature of truth and the meaning of justice, RASHOMON is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made. Four people give different accou...
Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi • 1953 • Japan
Starring Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori, Kinuyo Tanaka
By the time he made UGETSU, Kenji Mizoguchi was already an elder statesman of Japanese cinema, fiercely revered by Akira Kurosawa and other directors of a younger generation. And with this exquisite ...
Sansho the Bailiff
Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi • 1954 • Japan
When an idealistic governor disobeys the reigning feudal lord, he is cast into exile, his wife and children left to fend for themselves and eventually wrenched apart by vicious slave traders. Under Kenji Mizoguchi's dazzling direction, this classic Japa...
A Story from Chikamatsu
Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi • 1954 • Japan
Starring Kazuo Hasegawa, Kyoko Kagawa
One of a string of late-career masterworks made by Kenji Mizoguchi in the first half of the 1950s, A STORY FROM CHIKAMATSU (a.k.a. THE CRUCIFIED LOVERS) is an exquisitely moving tale of forbidden love struggling ...
Street of Shame
Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi • 1956 • Japan
For his final film, Mizoguchi brought a lifetime of experience to bear on the heartbreaking tale of a brothel full of women whose dreams are constantly being shattered by the socioeconomic realities surrounding them. Set in Tokyo's Red Light District (t...
Directed by Kon Ichikawa • 1958 • Japan
Starring Raizo Ichikawa, Tatsuya Nakadai
Adapted from a novel by Yukio Mishima and told in an intricate flashback structure, CONFLAGRATION dramatizes the psychological collapse of Goichi (Raizo Ichikawa), a young Buddhist acolyte from a dysfunctional f...
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1959 • Japan
Starring Ganjiro Nakamura, Machiko Kyo, Ayako Wakao
In 1959, Yasujiro Ozu remade his 1934 silent classic A STORY OF FLOATING WEEDS in color with the celebrated cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa (RASHOMON, UGETSU). Setting his later version in a seaside locati...
Directed by Kon Ichikawa • 1959 • Japan
Starring Ganjiro Nakamura, Machiko Kyo
Kon Ichikawa’s ODD OBSESSION is a strange dark comedy on a then-forbidden subject—impotence, and jealousy as a cure for it. The movie explores the links between love, jealousy, and rage, all from the standpoint of...
Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1961 • Japan
Starring Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yoko Tsukasa
The incomparable Toshiro Mifune stars in Akira Kurosawa’s visually stunning and darkly comic YOJIMBO. To rid a terror-stricken village of corruption, wily masterless samurai Sanjuro turns a range war...
Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold
Directed by Kazuo Ikehiro • 1964 • Japan
After arriving in a small village, Zatoichi finds himself accused of stealing the citizens’ hefty tax payments. To clear his name, he must face off against a corrupt official, a succession of hired blades, and a bullwhip-wielding titan, played...
Directed by Kon Ichikawa • 1965 • Japan
A spectacle of magnificent proportions and remarkable intimacy, Kon Ichikawa’s TOKYO OLYMPIAD remains one of the greatest films ever made about sports. Supervising a vast team of technicians using scores of cameras, Ichikawa captured the 1964 Summer Games ...
Directed by Masahiro Shinoda • 1971 • Japan
Starring David Lampson, Don Kenny, Tetsuro Tanba
Two Portuguese priests go to Japan to help Christian sects, driven underground by a ruthless magistracy, to regain a foothold. Quickly drawn into a mire of persecution, the missionaries learn the fat...
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril
Lone Wolf and Cub #4
Directed by Buichi Saito • 1972 • Japan
In this distinctly lowbrow entry in the LONE WOLF AND CUB series, Itto Ogami is hired by the Owari clan to assassinate a tattooed woman who is killing her enemies and cutting off their topknots. Meanwhile, Daigoro is separated from his...
The World of Kazuo Miyagawa
Renowned cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa collaborated with a number of great Japanese filmmakers, including Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, Kon Ichikawa, and Yasujiro Ozu. The following excerpts from the Japanese television documentary THE WORLD OF KAZUO MIYAGAWA explore Miyagawa and Kurosawa’s w...