An Actor's Revenge

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An Actor's Revenge
An Actor's Revenge FilmPoster.jpeg
English poster
Directed byKon Ichikawa
Written by
Produced byMasaichi Nagata
CinematographySetsuo Kobayashi
Edited byShigeo Nishida
Music by
Distributed byDaiei Film
Release date
  • 13 January 1963 (1963-01-13) (Japan)
Running time
113 minutes

An Actor's Revenge (Japanese: 雪之丞変化, Hepburn: Yukinojō henge), also known as Revenge of a Kabuki Actor, is a 1963 Japanese film directed by Kon Ichikawa, based on a novel by Otokichi Mikami.[1][2][3]


Japan in the late Edo period: Three men — Sansai Dobe, Kawaguchiya and Hiromiya — are responsible for the suicide of seven-year-old Yukitarō's mother and father. Yukitarō is adopted and brought up by Kikunojō Nakamura, the actor-manager of an Osaka kabuki troupe. The adult Yukitarō becomes an onnagata, a male actor who plays female roles, taking the stage name Yukinojō. He wears women's clothes and uses the language and mannerisms of a woman offstage as well as on.

Twenty years later, the troupe pays a visit to Edo, where the men responsible for his parents' deaths now live. Yukinojō brings about their deaths, then, having achieved his goal, and apparently overcome by the death of an innocent woman who was part of his schemes but whom he became fond of, retires from the stage and disappears.

The events are coolly observed and sardonically commented on by the Robin-Hood-like thief Yamitarō.



Mikami's novel had been adapted for the screen numerous times before, the first time by Teinosuke Kinugasa (1935–36), which also starred Kazuo Hasegawa.[3] The 1963 version was Hasegawa's 300th role as a film actor,[4] who plays both Yukinojō and thief Yamitarō. The screenplay was written by director Ichikawa's wife, Natto Wada, based on Kinugasa's 1935 and Daisuke Itō's 1939 dramatisations.[1] Yoshinobu Nishioka served as art director.[1] The voice-over narration was provided by famous benshi Musei Tokugawa.[1]


The Japanese title is Yukinojō henge. Yukinojō is the stage-name of the central character, who is an onnagata or oyama. Among the senses of henge (whose basic meaning is change of form) are ghost, spectre and apparition. The title is sometimes rendered The Avenging Ghost of Yukinojō. Yukinojō uses his stage-craft to terrify one of his enemies by creating the illusion of a ghost, but there is no supernatural element in the film.

In the kabuki theatre the word henge has the technical sense of costume change. The type of play called a henge-mono (変化もの) is a quick-change piece in which the leading actor plays a number of roles and undergoes many on-stage changes of costume. The title thus has as one of its senses The Many Guises of Yukinojō. The usual English title is from a line of dialogue when the character Yamitarō, having learned that Yukinojō proposes to take revenge on his enemies by elaborate plots rather than killing them at the first opportunity, says to himself "As you might expect of an actor’s revenge, it’s going to be a flamboyant performance" (Yakusha no katakiuchi dakeatte, kotta mon da: 役者の敵討ちだけあって、こったもんだ).


  1. ^ a b c d e "雪之丞変化(1963)". Kinenote (in Japanese). Retrieved 29 October 2022.
  2. ^ a b "雪之丞変化". Japanese Movie Database (in Japanese). Retrieved 29 October 2022.
  3. ^ a b "雪之丞変化とは (Yukinojō Henge)". (in Japanese). Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  4. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan (14 February 2002). "An Actor's Revenge". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 29 October 2022.

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