The Empress Yang Kwei Fei (Yokihi 1955) is Kenji Mizoguchi's first color film and an adaptation of a classic Chinese myth. In order to gain some modicum of authenticity he worked with the Shaw Brothers. Thus it was a Daiei and Shaw Brothers co-production. The idea was that it would be an international production released in Hong Kong, however, the fact that this Chinese tale is completley in Japanese and features no Chinese actors led to the decision not to release it in China and the Shaw Brothers made their version of the story. The story is about Emperor Xuan Zong (Masayuki Mori), who is grieving over the death of his wife. His advisers hope to find him a new wife in order to re-establish his rule over the nation and help keep them in power. However, Xuan Zong has little interest in the high court ladies they present him. In desperation, General An Lushan (Sô Yamamura) finds a distant relative Yang Kwei-fei (Machiko Kyô) working in the kitchens and presents her to the emperor. She captures his attention due to the fact she looks very much like his dead wife and a has a shared passion for music among other things. She gains favor with him for these reasons. However, when An Lushan isn't given the dues he thinks he deserves for the discovery, he leads a revolt against the Yang family, suggesting a bitter end to the seemingly sweet love story. It seems that this film has been dismissed by a number of critics including Donald Richie who calls it a "rather dull if pictorially beautiful reworking of Chinese history." The story of the ultimate female sacrifice and lack of independence of the Princess reflects the main themes and motifs of Mizoguchi's career and seems to be more consistent than many of his other late career films in my opinion. As usual there are many cinematically interesting shots: from behind bushes and those framing figures in the palace and elsewhere. There are two extraordinary set pieces within the film as well: the bathing scene in the jade tub and the hanging scene which focuses on the discarded robe, slippers and earrings as the Princess sheds as she advances to the gallows for her ultimate sacrifice for the Emperor and the people. But the scenes are notable for what they don't show and are extremely effective artistically and emotionally.