Cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa (1908-1999)

The Singing LovebirdsMasahiro Makino (1939)
RashomonAkira Kurosawa (1950)
Miss Oyu – Kenji Mizoguchi (1951)
Ugetsu – Kenji Mizoguchi (1953)
Sansho the Bailiff – Kenji Mizoguchi (1954)
The Crucified Lovers – Kenji Mizoguchi (1954)
The Woman in the Rumor – Kenji Mizoguchi (1954)
Tales of the Taira Clan – Kenji Mizoguchi (1955)
Street of Shame – Kenji Mizoguchi (1956)
Floating Weeds – Yasujiro Ozu (1959)
YojimboAkira Kurosawa (1961)
Zatoichi and the Chest of GoldKazuo Ikehiro (1964)
Zatoichi's VengeanceTokuzo Tanaka (1966)
Irezumi – Yasuzo Masumura (1966)
Zatoichi the Outlaw – Satsuo Yamamoto (1967)
A Certain KillerKazuo Mori (1967)
Zatoichi and the FugitivesKimiyoshi Yasuda (1968)
The Magoichi Saga – Kenji Misumi (1969)
Zatoichi Meets YojimboKihachi Okamoto (1970)
Zatoichi Goes to the Fire FestivalKenji Misumi (1970)
Silence – Masahiro Shinoda (1971)
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril – Buichi Saito (1972)
The Trail of BloodKazuo Ikehiro (1972)
The Fearless AvengerKazuo Ikehiro (1972)
Hanzo the Razor: The Snare – Yasuzo Masumura (1973)
The Ballad of Orin – Masahiro Shinoda (1977)
Gonza the Spearman – Masahiro Shinoda (1986)

(Key films outside the jidai-geki genre are listed in gray)

Kazuo Miyagawa Kazuo Miyagawa was a visionary cinematographer who arguably shot the most beautiful films in Japanese cinema. He was most renowned for his productive collaboration with Kenji Mizoguchi, exemplified by the luminous imagery in Ugetsu and Sansho the Bailiff. Miyagawa also worked with Akira Kurosawa on two memorable occasions to develop the distinctive visual characters of Rashomon and Yojimbo. His exquisite camera work on the woodcutter in the forest at the opening of Rashomon is said to be the first motion picture scene shot directly into the sun.

I'm sure many critics bemoan the fact that Miyagawa spent the latter half of his career working largely in low-prestige chambara features, but this is one of my favorite things about him. How cool is it that one of the world's greatest cinematographers shot a half dozen Zatoichi movies, plus a Lone Wolf and Cub and a Hanzo the Razor? Those are definitely some of the best-looking action genre movies you'll ever see, and I thank Miyagawa for freely sharing his talents like a man of the people instead of a snobby artiste.

The Jidai-Geki Knights
Cinema