Nigorie (Inlet of Muddy Waters). 1953. Japan. Directed by Tadashi Imai. Screenplay by Yoko Mizuki, Toshiro Ide. With Akiko Tamura, Yoshiko Kuga, Chikage Awashima. 35mm. In Japanese; English subtitles. 130 min.
Having premiered at Cannes and won many Japanese awards, Inlet of Muddy Waters is the brilliant adaptation by Tadashi Imai, a noted social realist filmmaker, of three stories by Ichiyo Higuchi (1872–1896), Japan’s first professional female writer and a literary prodigy who nonetheless died in poverty at age 24. Much of Higuchi’s work is proto-feminist, centering on lower-class women forced into prostitution to make ends meet. The screenplay was cowritten by Yoko Mizuki, Imai’s frequent collaborator and a woman who, like Higuchi herself, was forced to become the family’s sole breadwinner at a young age. 35mm print from Japan Foundation, New York; courtesy Shochiku