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"Ugetsu" (1953) is a ghost story—and so much more. Under Kenji Mizoguschi’s masterful direction, the film is as haunting, thought-provoking and poignant as it is creepy. Its original title, "Ugetsu Monogatari", is sometimes translated as "Tales of the Moon and Rain". It tells the story of two couples ravaged by ambition in feudal Japan. As always with the best sci-fi, fantasy and horror, "Ugetsu" explores issues at the heart of ordinary life without once getting mired in the banal. In this case, the theme revolves around the cost of greed.

It's feudal Japan and starving soldiers ravage the countryside, taking—and in many cases, killing for—whatever they can find. Tobei is a laborer who wants to be a shogun, as long as he doesn't have to work too hard for it. "For a man's success, someone has to suffer!" his wife Ohama declares, after his quest leaves her prey to a group of the violent men who crawl through this film like a pervasive disease. The other couple, Miyagi and Genjuro, are parted when Genjuro's greed has him taking pottery to market despite the dangers in his war-torn land. Away from the influence of his wife and young son, he falls victim to the seductive—and dangerous—Lady Wakasa. With the help of a priest, he returns to Miyagi, but finds that his mistake has cost his family far more than he dreamed.

The plot is based in part on a short story called "The House Amid The Reeds", by Japanese author Ueda Akinari (born 1734). Akinari based this and other tales in his collection of nine supernatural stories on Chinese folk tales to which he gave his own distinctive twist.

The Science

Arul Mishra

Arul MishraArul Mishra of the University of Utah discusses “Ugetsu”, perception and the science of Neuromarketing.


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David Eccles School of Business
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