Sisters of the Gion / Women of the Night / Street of Shame

Street of Shame (赤線地帯, Akasen chitai?) is a 1956 black and white Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, his last film. The film is based on the novel Susaki no Onna by Yoshiko Shibaki.Sisters of the Gion / Women of the Night / Street of Shame. The theme of the movie is the plight of women in male-dominated Japanese society. In these four lacerating works of socially conscious melodrama two prewar (Osaka Elegy, Sisters of the Gion), two postwar (Women of the Night, Street of Shame) Mizoguchi introduces an array of compelling female protagonists, crushed or resilient, who are economically and spiritually deprived by their nation’s customs and traditions. With Mizoguchi’s visual daring and eloquence, these films are as cinematically thrilling as they are politically rousing.
Year Released
Series Title
Eclipse Series 13: Kenji Mizoguchi’s Fallen Women
Running Time
299 minutes
Date Released
2008 DVD
Criterion Collection
Average: 4 (1 vote)


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Sisters of Gion illustrates Mizoguchi's style

Field of Interest/Specialty: Japan
Posted On: 09/24/2009

Sisters of Gion is a fabulous film for demonstrating Mizoguchi's one-shot, one-frame style, as evidenced by the opening scene, which pans through a nagaya-style house, one room at a time. The film is also a clear look at the 1930s, and the conflict between tradition (of Japan) and modernization (and westernization), which is clearly shown in the two sisters of the Gion. The film is obviously old, so the film and sound quality may bother some viewers not accustomed to classic film, but the cinematography is brilliant. The film is also short and can be viewed in one class period. Although the sisters are low class geisha, there is no nudity; most likely acceptable for high school and beyond.
Streets of Shame is set in 1956, just as prostitution is officially banned, so its a useful film for looking at that historical moment. Some of the acting will strike some students as over done.