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Film / The Crucified Lovers

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The Crucified Lovers (近松物語, "A Story from Chikamatsu") is a 1954 directed by Kenji Mizoguchi.

It is based off a play from 1714. Ishun is the "Grand Scroll Master" to the imperial court in Kyoto. He produces calendars and scrolls, and has become quite wealthy at this business. He is however an incredible cheapskate. When his wife Osan asks him for five kan (a relatively small amount of money) for her ne'er-do-well brother Doki, Ishun contemptuously declines. Ishun is however more than willing to give money to Otama, the pretty maid, because he wants to have sex with her. Otama, who is petrified of her master, refuses his advances.

Meanwhile, Osan still needs the money for her brother. She goes to Mohei, a kind-hearted assistant in her husband's firm, and asks him for help. Mohei agrees, and pilfers Ishun's seal in order to make out an order for five kan. Naturally, he is caught, and imprisoned in Ishun's house to await the police. Osan is not implicated, but that night Mohei tries to run away and Osan tries to stop him. When they both fall to the floor as she tries to restrain him and they are seen by another servant, Osan is presumed to be having an affair with Mohei. A series of tragedies ensue.

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Tropes:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Otama is not at all happy about Ishun's crude come-ons.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Mohei and Osan have decided to kill themselves, and are about to do it when Osan decides he has to get something off his chest. Sobbing, he tells Osan that he's always loved her. She then decides that she doesn't want to die.
  • As You Know: "Doki, my brother, what are you doing here?"
  • Call-Back: Early in the film a distraught couple are being led off to their execution for adultery. The film ends with Mohei and Osan being marched off to their execution, looking peaceful and happy.
  • Double Standard: Otama watches a couple being led away to execution for adultery, then has to fend off Ishun's advances. She angrily complains to Mohei about how men can satiate their lusts but women can't.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Ishun's subordinate at the scroll master business realizes that if Ishun is disgraced, the business will go to him. Ishun tells his man to separate the bodies of Mohei and Osan—they are thought to have drowned—but when the subordinate goes to look for them he tells his people to keep the bodies together. At the end the subordinate delivers to Ishun the news that he's lost everything, and smirks when Ishun turns away.
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  • Gossipy Hens: All the other ladies in the servants' quarters, sparking about Ishun's lust for Otama and Otama's unrequited crush on Mohei.
  • Hypocrite: Ishun sneers at the couple being led away to execution for adultery, right after he makes a pass at Otama.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: For not reporting his wife for adultery, Ishun is banished and his property is confiscated. Not reporting her was actually semi-compassionate, but he deserves the karma for being a jerkass.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Just at the exact moment that Mohei and Osan hit the floor while she is holding onto his arm and trying to stop him from fleeing, a servant interrupts them. From this it is assumed that Osan and Mohei have been having an affair.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: Ends with the camera watching the parade as Mohei and Osan are being taken away to be crucified.
  • Spoiler Title: In English-language markets, anyway.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Osan and Mohei fall in love as they flee, but the fates conspire against them.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Osan is, considering how sweet her love for Mohei is, and how her husband's such an ass.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Otama tells Osan that Ishun has been trying to have sex with Oran by saying "the master wants to buy me clothes."
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