Film #30: GATE OF HELL (aka Jigokumon)
Gate of Hell (aka Jigokumon)
4 out of 5 stars
Winner of the Palme d’Or grand prize award at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival, a 1955 Honorary Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, an Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Color, and the 1954 New York Film Critics Circle Award for “Best Foreign Language Film, THE GATE OF HELL was a delightful surprise. Filmed using Eastmancolor (hence the vibrant colors), GATE OF HELL was Daiei Film's first color film and the first Japanese color film to be released outside Japan.
Appearing around the same time Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon, Kimisaburo Yoshimura's The Tale of Genji, and Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugetsu, GATE OF HELL is a part of what is often termed The Golden Age of Japanese Cinema. The film stars a cast of familiar faces (especially if you’re familiar with the Japanese Chanbara and/or Jidaigeki genres) who all perform with aplomb. The script is pretty much your standard “love triangle” film (with a slight twist). That all said, the reason to see GATE OF HELL is its visuals. Beautifully staged and costumed, the film is both engaging and eye-pleasing. Ranking up there with other great visual Japanese films like Kobayashi’s KWAIDAN and Kurosawa’s KAGEMUSHA, GATE OF HELL is a beautiful looking film even as the script feels familiar. Japanese cinema fans will lap this up with a biscuit! Recommended!!