Charming movie which lets itself down with poor horror special effects
Seijiro is a shamisen player for a kabuki troupe (a shamisen being a type of stringed instrument). He is engaged to Mitsue, a sociopathic actress. Seijiro's kindly behaviour towards his cat seems to prove good karma when the cat (Kuro) brings home Okiyo, a kindly and beautiful lady from a higher caste, with whom he forms a friendship. For this gesture the cat is murdered by Mitsue. Movies with ghost cats are apparently a genre in Japan, the only one I had previously been aware of is Kaneto Shindo's Kuroneko, but this is an early example
A number of scenes feature subsequent hauntings by the cat's ghost. The special effects in these moments unfortunately come across as fairly ludicrous. The ending of the movie revolves around a kabuki performance that's fairly unintelligible to a modern audience and some frankly pretty unwatchable action/horror scenes.
All that said though, I felt that the movie was very beautiful at points and was rather elegantly framed and shot. I think what I love about black and white cinema is busy frames full of detail, and the contrast of light and shadow in these busy frames. This movie, especially in the first half, is quite voluptuous and ornate, and shows a very idealised form of Japanese life, it's easy to sense that the Japanese are a people who turned living into an art form.
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