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An Actor's Revenge

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Title: An Actor's Revenge  
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Subject: Kon Ichikawa, Japanese Film Festival, Topo Gigio and the Missile War, Ohan (film), Koto (film)
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An Actor's Revenge

An Actor's Revenge
Directed by Kon Ichikawa
Produced by Masaichi Nagata
Written by Natto Wada
Starring Kazuo Hasegawa
Fujiko Yamamoto
Music by Tamekichi Mochizuki
Masao Yagi
Cinematography Setsuo Kobayashi
Edited by Shigeo Nishida
Distributed by Daiei Studios
Release dates 13 January 1963 (Japan)
March 1967 (UK)
16 June 1971 (USA)
Running time 113 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese
An Actor's Revenge (雪之丞変化 Yukinojō Henge), also known as Revenge of a Kabuki Actor, is a 1963 film directed by Kon Ichikawa. The film was produced in Eastmancolor and Daieiscope for Daiei Film.

The film is a remake of the 1935 film of the same title (distributed in English-speaking countries under the title The Revenge of Yukinojō), which also starred Kazuo Hasegawa. The 1963 An Actor's Revenge marked Hasegawa's 300th role[1][2] as a film actor. The screenplay, written by Ichikawa's wife, Natto Wada, was based on the adaptation by Daisuke Itō and Teinosuke Kinugasa of a newspaper serial originally written by Otokichi Mikami that was used for the 1935 version. There is also an opera, An Actor's Revenge, with music by Minoru Miki and libretto by James Kirkup[3] and a 2008 NHK production of the same story, with Yukinojō and Yamitaro played by Hideaki Takizawa.


Three men, Sansai Dobe (Ganjirō Nakamura), Kawaguchiya (Saburō Date) and Hiromiya (Eijirō Yanagi) are responsible for the deaths of seven-year-old Yukitarō’s mother and father. Yukitarō is adopted and brought up by Kikunojō Nakamura (Chūsha Ichikawa), the actor-manager of an Osaka kabuki troupe. The adult Yukitarō (Kazuo Hasegawa) becomes an onnagata, a male actor who plays female roles. He takes the stage name Yukinojō. Like many of the great onnagata, particularly of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, he wears women’s clothes and uses the language and mannerisms of a woman offstage as well as on. Many years later, the troupe pays a visit to Edo, where the three men responsible for his parents’ deaths now live. Yukinojō brings about their deaths by means of various stratagems, then, apparently overcome by what he has done, retires from the stage and disappears, no-one knows where. The events of the film are coolly observed and sardonically commented on by the Robin-Hood-like thief Yamitarō, also played by Hasegawa.


The Japanese title is Yukinojō henge (雪之丞変化). Yukinojō is the stage-name of the central character, who is an onnagata or oyama - a male kabuki actor who plays women’s roles. Among the various senses of henge, whose basic meaning is change of form, are ghost, spectre and apparition, and the title is sometimes rendered The Avenging Ghost of Yukinojō. Yukinojō does use his stage-craft to terrify one of his enemies by creating the illusion of a ghost, but there is in fact no supernatural element in the film. In the kabuki theatre the word henge has the technical sense of costume change. The type of play called a henge-mono (変化もの) is a quick-change piece in which the leading actor plays a number of roles and undergoes many on-stage changes of costume. The title thus has as one of its senses The Many Guises of Yukinojō. The usual English title of the film is taken from a line of dialogue in which the character Yamitarō, having learned that Yukinojō proposes to take revenge on his enemies by means of several elaborate plots, rather than killing them at the first opportunity, says to himself ‘As you might expect of an actor’s revenge, it’s going to be a flamboyant performance’. (Yakusha no katakiuchi dakeatte, kotta mon da: 役者の敵討ちだけあって、こったもんだ)



The voice-over narration is provided by Tokugawa Musei (徳川夢声 ), the most famous benshi of the silent era.


  1. ^ IMDB Trivia: Yukinojō henge
  2. ^ Chicago Reader: An Actor's Revenge Reviewed by Jonathan Rosenbaum
  3. ^ (libretto)"An, Actor's Revenge".  

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