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White Threads of the Waterfall (Taki no Shiraito)

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Dir. Kenji Mizoguchi. 1933, 96 mins. 16mm print with Benshi soundtrack from the Japan Foundation. With Takako Irie, Tokihiko Okada. A late silent, White Threads of the Waterfall is also the earliest of Mizoguchi’s extant “women’s pictures.” This adaptation of a shinpa (non-traditional melodrama) play concerns a circus performer, Taki, who goes beyond her means to support the young law-school student whom she loves. After circumstances force Taki to crime, she goes before the court and the presiding judge—none other than her lover, who must blindly mete out what passes for justice. According to film theorist Noël Burch, in the character of Taki we can see “the prototype of Mizoguchi’s rebellious heroines.”

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