A samurai pursues a married lady-in-waiting.
Gate of Hell (1953)
Directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa
Written by Teinosuke Kinugasa and Masaichi Nagata
Starring Kazuo Hasegawa, Isao Yamagata, Machiko Kyô
Based on the stage play by Kan Kikuchi
Oscar Wins - Best Foreign Film (Honorary Award),
Best Costume Design
Gate of Hell caught my attention because it won the grand prize at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival and then won the Best Costume Design award at the 27th Academy Awards. It also won an honorary award that year for best Foreign Language Film, but they didn’t have a proper category for foreign films yet. Connor and I watched some films recognized at that award ceremony for our On the Waterfront Oscar Sunday episode, but I think Teinosuke Kinugasa’s Gate of Hell probably should’ve gotten a Best Picture nomination.
During the Heiji Rebellion in Japan, around 1160, a young samurai named Moritoo falls in love with Kesa who is about to get married to a man named Wataru. Moritoo’s love becomes an obsession and I don’t want to say what it leads to because that’s the film.
Gate of Hell is one of the most well thought-out love stories I’ve ever seen unfold. I totally understand all the recognition it got during the 1954 award season. The costume design and production design are in a league of their own, making it a damn near must see film. Hasegawa and Kyô are pretty wonderful as Moritoo and Kesa, but it’s the atmosphere and story that will stick with me mostly.