The Crucified Lovers

The Crucified Lovers (近松物語, Chikamatsu Monogatari, literally, "A Story from Chikamatsu") is a 1954 black-and-white Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. It was adapted from Chikamatsu Monzaemon's 1715 jōruri play Daikyōji Mukashi Goyomi (大経師昔暦).[1]

The Crucified Lovers
Film poster
Directed byKenji Mizoguchi
Produced byMasaichi Nagata
Written byYoshikata Yoda
Matsutarō Kawaguchi
Chikamatsu Monzaemon (story)
StarringKazuo Hasegawa
Kyōko Kagawa
Yōko Minamida
Eitarō Shindō
Music byFumio Hayasaka
Tamezō Mochizuki
CinematographyKazuo Miyagawa
Edited byKanji Sugawara
Distributed byDaiei Film
Release date
November 23, 1954
Running time
102 minutes


Ishun (Shindo) is a wealthy but miserly scroll-maker in Kyoto, especially regarding his younger wife Osan (Kagawa), who was from an impoverished family, and married Ishun for money.

When Osan's brother asks for a loan, he is refused. Osan then seeks help from Mohei (Hasegawa), one of Ishun's top apprentices, who forges a receipt in an attempt at obtaining the money from Ishun, but is caught. Ishun threatens to summon the authorities, but a maid (Minamida) asks him to forgive the act, claiming that she had asked for the money. Ishun makes nightly sexual forays into the maid's room, but she refuses to become his mistress, despite offers of goods and property. Ishun then assumes the maid (who is secretly in love with Mohei) is sleeping with Mohei, and Ishun orders Mohei locked up in the attic.

When Osan thanks the maid for attempting to help, she discovers her husband's attempted infidelities. Hoping to confront him, she sleeps in the maid's room that night. To her surprise, Mohei, who has escaped, sneaks into the room, in an attempt at saying goodbye to the maid before fleeing. Osan attempts to persuade Mohei into staying, but the two are interrupted when the shop clerk enters the room, and immediately assumes the two to be having an affair.

Mohei is chased away, and Ishun - after being alerted to the incident - concludes that his wife is having an affair. Angered and insulted, Osan leaves the house, only to again encounter Mohei. They later discover that Ishun has alerted the police, and Mohei is now wanted for forgery and adultery (a capital offense). Rather than face such unjust accusations the two decide to commit suicide together. They change their minds, however, when Mohei confesses his love for Osan.

They continue to flee on foot, their now mutual love growing, while Ishun's men and the police continue to pursue them. They reach the home of Mohei's father where he reluctantly gives them food and shelter. By this time a traveling chestnut salesman has inadvertently notified Ishun's house of the whereabouts of the two lovers. Ishun's men arrive at Mohei's father's where the two are captured. Mohei is bound and left for the police to find the next day while Osan is taken to her family home en route to Ishun.

As Osan refuses to return to Ishun's house, Mohei arrives at her family home, having been freed by his father. Osan's mother tries to convince Mohei to turn himself in while her brother goes to fetch Ishun and his men. Just as Ishun's men arrives, the lovers escape one last time. As Ishun overhears about Mohei and Osan have turned themselves into the police and confessed to adultery from Isan, Sukeyemon appears and informs him of the Shogun's deputies' arrival. Knowing he won't be able to lie his way out of trouble, Ishun tells him to let them in his home and sends Isan away. As he is leaving, Isan shows a deceiving smile implying he had informed the Shogun's deputies about it and they arrive to confront Ishun. A notice is read by the townsfolk from the Shogun's deputies informing them that Ishun has been found guilty of deceiving the authorities by failing to inform them of Osan's misdeeds and only reporting about Mohei's forgery, which is seen as unforgivable. As punishment for his failure in reporting the affair, Ishun is banished from town with his property and wealth being seized by the deputies. While the servants are packing to search for new employment, they talk about Sukeyemon also being banished as well for his failures in not only keeping a better eye on the property, but also not reporting Ishun's negligence in his refusal to report about the affair. They think it's a good thing because both men were callous and selfish. Soon the servants hear another parade going on and head outside. The servants see Osan and Mohei holding hands as they are being ridden on horseback on their way to crucifixion and death. The other servants watch the parade and note that Mohei and Osan look happier than ever before.



Nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival,[2] The Crucified Lovers was one of several of his late-career films (i.e. Life of Oharu, Ugetsu, Sansho the Bailiff) that brought Mizoguchi to the attention of non-Japanese audiences.

Photographed by Kazuo Miyagawa (Rashomon, Floating Weeds, Tokyo Olympiad), The Crucified Lovers features Mizoguchi's sequence shot aesthetic, recalling Japanese woodcuts and scroll paintings.


  1. "大経師昔暦". Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  2. "Festival de Cannes: The Crucified Lovers". Retrieved 2009-01-31.
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