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The Ballad of Narayama (1958)

Narayama bushikô (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 19 June 1961 (USA)
A kabuki theatre-inflected story about a poor village whose people have to be carried to a nearby mountain to die once they get old.

Director:

Keisuke Kinoshita
Reviews
6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Kinuyo Tanaka ... Orin
Teiji Takahashi ... Tatsuhei
Yûko Mochizuki Yûko Mochizuki ... Tamayan
Danko Ichikawa Danko Ichikawa ... Kesakichi
Seiji Miyaguchi ... Mata-yan
Keiko Ogasawara Keiko Ogasawara ... Matsu-yan
Yûnosuke Itô Yûnosuke Itô ... Matayan's son
Eijirô Tôno ... Messenger
Ken Mitsuda Ken Mitsuda ... Teruyan
Edit

Storyline

In Kabuki style, the film tells the story of a remote mountain village where the scarcity of food leads to a voluntary but socially-enforced policy in which relatives carry 70-year-old family members up Narayama mountain to die. Granny Orin is approaching 70, content to embrace her fate. Her widowed son Tatsuhei cannot bear losing his mother, even as she arranges his marriage to a widow his age. Her grandson Kesa, who's girlfriend is pregnant, is selfishly happy to see Orin die. Around them, a family of thieves are dealt with severely, and an old man, past 70, whose son has cast him out, scrounges for food. Will Orin's loving and accepting spirit teach and ennoble her family? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

19 June 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ballad of Narayama See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Shochiku See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Fujicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was the final film to be added to Roger Ebert's list of "Great Movies" before his death on April 4, 2013 at the age of 70. See more »

Connections

Remade as The Ballad of Narayama (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Deliciously Stunning Exploration of the Possibilities of Colour
23 February 2013 | by kurosawakiraSee all my reviews

Made available on Blu-ray by the Criterion Collection, Kinoshita's highly stylized exploration of the Narayama story is a deliciously stunning exploration of the possibilities of colour, and has some of the most inventive use of transition in film.

You might be familiar with the far more explicit and naturalistic film version of the same story from 1983, made by Shôhei Imamura, and knowledge of that film greatly enhanced my viewing of this. These two films are worlds apart, in fact so much that it feels that Imamura's film openly converses with this, since its theatricality seems to almost provoke the kind of hyper-naturalism inherent in the Imamura. Another film that enriches this is Kinugasa's "Jigokumon" ("Gates of Hell", 1953), available on Region B Blu-ray courtesy of the Masters of Cinema, and soon to be released by Criterion, as well.

I didn't know much of Kinoshita before this, only the biographical information concerning his relationship with Masaki Kobayashi, who served as his apprentice and whose film "Harakiri" (1962) Kinoshita openly disliked (he reversed his opinion later). I think it's somewhat ironic since Kobayashi's use of lighting certainly finds a compeer here, and I think this definitely encouraged "Kwaidan" (1964) to go to the lengths it did.


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