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Media Response #4 centers mainly on three excerpts from the 18th century Japanese story collection Ugetsu Monogatari (雨月物語, lit. “Tales of Moonlight and Rain”) by Ueda Akinari, which are found in the fourth of the four reading selections for Week 11:
Chambers, Anthony H., trans. 2007. Tales of Moonlight and Rain [Translation of the Ugetsu Monogatari by Ueda Akinari, 1776]. Columbia University Press:
• “Shiramine” (57-69)
• “The Kibitsu Cauldron” (141-152)
• “The Blue Hood” (189-199)
Note that the introductory materials and notes are optional; these provide very helpful observations on context, setting and vocabulary, but can be skipped. Before anything else, read the stories first.
The media component for this assignment is the 1953 film Ugetsu, directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, which can be found here:
Note that the Youtube link in the course schedule document no longer works — files must be accessed through this link instead. There the film is broken down into 4 parts (.m4v format) — view all four.
Ueda Akinari’s story collection contains nine stories. Three of these are in the readings; meanwhile the 1953 film is based on two others, namely “Asaji ga yado (House Amid the Thickets)” and “Jasei no in (Lust of the White Serpent)” which we have not read. However, all nine stories are bound together by common themes, recurring motifs, and repeating character dynamics, all of them having to do with the “unseen world”, spirits, demons, religion as well as social and moral values. What exactly are these common themes and elements?
Your task is to set the film alongside the three stories from the readings and identify what binds them. Again, do the readings before watching the film. Then as you watch, take note of scenes or moments of the film that resonate directly with the three stories you have read, using time-frame markers (e.g. [pt. 3 – 13:00-13:55] — be sure to note whether part 1, 2, 3 or 4. Pay particular attention to the social-moral and religious dimensions of the readings and film, identifying no fewer than 3 key dynamics, motifs or themes shared between the readings and film. These must be illustrated with multiple and various direct references to both the readings by page number and time-frame references to the film (the more the better!).

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