Figures Traced in Light: On Cinematic
Misprints, Mistakes, and Missed
[p. 21] : I claim that Kuleshov completed The Revolutionary after Bauer’s death. That’s an
error. Bauer lived to complete The Revolutionary. After
his death Kuleshov completed The King of Paris (1917).
Thanks to Yuri Tsivian for noticing the slip.
[p. 83] : I attribute The Cuckoo (Hototogisu, 1922) to Makino Shozo. It was actually
directed by Ikeda Yoshinobu. Thanks to Alexander Jacoby for
pointing this out.
[p. 92] : I discuss a scene from The Life of Oharu (Saikaku ichidai onna, 1952). Oharu receives a
farewell letter from her lover Katsunosuke, who has been
executed. Grabbing a knife, she runs out into a bamboo glade,
followed by her mother. Before Oharu can kill herself, her mother
wrestles the knife from her and both collapse sobbing in extreme
I should have mentioned is that this scene carries over a
motif from an earlier scene in a garden, when Oharu fainted at
Katsunosuke’s declaration of love. That scene ended with his
carrying her into the inn, and it marks the beginning of their
affair (Fig. 1). At the close of the scene, Mizoguchi’s
camera gently tilts down to reframe two small stupas, traditional
Buddhist symbols of earth’s elements and of spiritual
enlightenment (Fig. 2).
Fig. 3The stupa motif reappears in the bamboo-glade scene. Trying to
wriggle away from her mother, Oharu crawls toward a pair of
stupas in the distance. Evidently she had planned to kill herself
there. So far away is Mizoguchi’s camera position that the
stupas are just barely visible in my frame enlargements on p. 93,
but they are definitely there in the original film, and perhaps
they can be seen more clearly in this frame, just to right of
center (Fig. 3). In effect Mizoguchi gives the love of Oharu and
Katsunosuke a spiritual validation, in sharp contrast to the
social oppression that divides them.
[p. 94] : I claim that Naruse Mikio arranges five figures in
various zones of a shot from The Whole Family Works (Hataratu ikka, 1939). After seeing the film
again in a good print, I find that he actually includes seven figures in the shot. All of them are dimly visible
in my still on p. 95.
© David Bordwell 2006.