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Kuroneko
     

Kuroneko

Director: Kaneto Shindo, Kichiemon Nakamura, Nobuko Otowa, Kiwako Taichi

Cast: Kaneto Shindo, Kichiemon Nakamura, Nobuko Otowa, Kiwako Taichi

 

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Set in feudal Japan, this atmospheric and violent ghost story (whose title literally translates as The Black Cat in the Bush) begins with the brutal murder of two women by a band of mercenary samurai, whose leader is subsequently tracked down, seduced, and murdered by a young woman possessed by the shape-shifting specter of his victim. Called upon to avenge the

Overview

Set in feudal Japan, this atmospheric and violent ghost story (whose title literally translates as The Black Cat in the Bush) begins with the brutal murder of two women by a band of mercenary samurai, whose leader is subsequently tracked down, seduced, and murdered by a young woman possessed by the shape-shifting specter of his victim. Called upon to avenge the warrior's death is none other than the woman's former husband, who has been ordered by his superiors to assassinate the guilty party. Plot twists abound as the older, vengeful spirit seeks to exact poetic justice despite the younger ghost's reluctance to destroy the man who once loved her. Though not on the epic level of Kwaidan or Onibaba, this adaptation of an ancient folk tale benefits from the same cultural richness, as well as a touch of social allegory.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Kaneto Shindo's Kuroneko combines a traditional Kwaidan, or vengeful ghost story, with some samurai action in the story of two murdered women (Nobuko Otowa and Kiwako Taichi) revived by a demon-cat to kill all samurai warriors. The women's son/husband Gintoki (Kichiemon Nakamura) is ordered to destroy them, and the ensuing emotional drama -- the wife makes a bargain in order to be temporarily reunited with her husband, the mother has to kill her son -- fits in well with the action and composes a moving theme about the civilian effects of war. The major set pieces are clear and concise, particularly the opening where the murder of the women is conveyed through a final long shot that has the samurai exiting a farmhouse and walking off-screen and moments later a cloud of smoke belching out the windows and doors. Other highlights include the use of repetition and suspenseful editing when the ghosts lure the warriors to their death and an amusing, if superfluous, fight scene between Gintoki and a colossus warrior in a towering grass field. The supernatural elements are visualized using simple efficient tricks: spot lighting, minimal but suggestive sets, and smoke machines. Overall, it is a wonderfully engaging piece of cross-genre entertainment.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/18/2011
UPC:
0715515087810
Original Release:
1968
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Presentation:
[B&W, Wide Screen]
Time:
1:39:00
Sales rank:
9,785

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Video interview with Director Kaneto Shindo from the Directors Guild of Japan; ; New video interview with film critic Tadao Sato; ; Theatrical Trailer

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