The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum

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The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum
The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi
Written by Shôfû Muramatsu (novel)
Matsutarō Kawaguchi
Yoshikata Yoda
Starring Shôtarô Hanayagi
Kôkichi Takada
Gonjurô Kawarazaki
Music by Shirô Fukai
Senji Itô
Cinematography Yozô Fuji
Minoru Miki
Edited by Koshi Kawahigashi
Distributed by Shochiku
Release dates October 13, 1939
Running time 142 min.
Language Japanese

The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (残菊物語 Zangiku monogatari?), 1939) is a Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi.

The film is regarded as one of Mizoguchi's greatest pre-war achievements. Especially notable is Mizoguchi's now mature mise-en-scène compositions and extreme long takes.


The film is set in Japan in 1885. Kikunosuke Onoe, played in his movie debut by the stage actor Shotaro Hanayagi, is the adoptive son of a famous Kabuki actor, who is training to succeed his father in an illustrious career. While hypocritically praising Onoe's acting to his face, the rest of his father's troupe deride him behind his back. Otoku (Kakuko Mori), the young wet-nurse of Onoe's adoptive father's infant son, is the only one frank enough to disclose his artistic shortcomings and urge him to improve himself. When Otoku is dismissed by Onoe's family for her closeness to the young master, with its potential for scandal, Onoe is outraged and leaves Tokyo to hone his art away from his father, much to the latter's wrath.

Otoku eventually joins Onoe as his common law wife and encourages him, through many difficult times, to persevere with his career. When Onoe finally has his chance to join a famed Tokyo troupe, and establish himself as a nationally renowned Kabuki actor, Otoku (unknown to Onoe) sacrifices their relationship to enable Onoe to seize this opportunity and reconcile with his father. Though ultimately Onoe's father accepts Otoku as Onoe's wife, this reconciliation comes only when she is already on her deathbed with tuberculosis – like the wilting chrysanthemums of late fall, she dies at the moment of her husband's theatrical triumph.


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