Ballad Of Narayama

  • 1958
  • 1 HR 38 MIN
  • NR
  • Drama

One of the more notable of the "sensitive" Japanese releases popular on the international art house circuit in the early 1960s. Kinoshita's carefully stylized film depicts the centuries-old tradition of herding the aged and infirm onto the barren wastes of Mount Narayama where the elements soon put them out of their misery and send them to the gods. One...read more

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One of the more notable of the "sensitive" Japanese releases popular on the international art house circuit in the early 1960s. Kinoshita's carefully stylized film depicts the centuries-old tradition of herding the aged and infirm onto the barren wastes of Mount Narayama where the elements

soon put them out of their misery and send them to the gods. One woman in her seventies accepts her fate but stoically lingers, surviving on sheer will power. Another victim rebels at being sent to his death on the mountain by his brutal son, who kills the old man and is in turn himself killed.

The production, technically excellent and photographically stunning, distances the audience from the savagery of the drama via its careful, theatrical use of studio sets and lighting and a Kabuki narrator. Unlike the 1983 remake by Shohei Imamura, which emphasizes both the violence of the town's

customs and the links between humans and nature via a relentlessly harsh realism, Kinoshita almost pushes the film into the realm of fantasy. Criticized by some as too conservative, this version, while less powerfully dramatic than Imamura's, nevertheless finds its own, different level of

resonance.

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