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Kwaidan
     

Kwaidan

5.0 8
Director: Masaki Kobayashi

Cast: Rentaro Mikuni, Michiyo Aratama, Misako Watanabe

 

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Kwaidan is an impressively mounted anthology horror film based on four stories by Lafcadio Hearn, a Greek-born writer who began his career in the United States at the age of 19 and moved permanently to Japan in 1890 at the age of 40, where he eventually became a subject of the empire and took on the name Koizumi Yakuno. Hearn became a conduit of Japanese

Overview

Kwaidan is an impressively mounted anthology horror film based on four stories by Lafcadio Hearn, a Greek-born writer who began his career in the United States at the age of 19 and moved permanently to Japan in 1890 at the age of 40, where he eventually became a subject of the empire and took on the name Koizumi Yakuno. Hearn became a conduit of Japanese culture to western audiences, publishing journalism and then fiction incorporating traditional Japanese themes and characters. "Black Hair," the first tale, concerns a samurai who cannot support his wife; he leaves her for a life of wealth and ease with a princess. Returning years later, he spends the night with his wife in their now-dilapidated house, only to awake to a horrifying discovery which drives him insane. In "The Woman of the Snow" (deleted from U.S. theatrical prints after the film's Los Angeles opening; it is on the DVD version), two woodcutters seek refuge during a snowstorm in what appears to be an abandoned hut. A snow witch appears and kills one of them but lets his partner free. Years later, the survivor meets and married a lovely young woman, only to learn her true identity. The most visually impressive tale is "Hoichi the Earless," in which a blind musician is asked by the ghost of a samurai to play for his late infant lord at a tomb. The monks who house the musician cover him with tattoos to prevent any harm coming to him, but they forget his ears. He returns from the engagement with his ears cut off; however, his misadventure propels him to fame. "In a Cup of Tea" concerns a samurai who is haunted by the vision of a man he sees reflected in his tea. Even after he drinks from the cup, he still sees the man while on guard duty.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Tom Wiener
Elegantly shot in widescreen by Yoshio Miyajima and impressively scored by Toru Takemitsu (Japan's greatest film composer), Kwaidan is a visual or aural feast. It's also the last great film by director Masaki Kobayashi, best known for his epic World War II trilogy The Human Condition. For contemporary western film audiences used to slice-and-dice horror films cut to rock & roll rhythms, it will seem impossibly slow and tame, but that's because it makes no concession at all to western sensibilities. On its original release in 1965, the film was greeted with indifference by U.S. audiences, whose idea of Japanese horror was honed by the pulpy exploits of Godzilla and Mothra. Lafcadio Hearn's source stories delve into the psyches of men who venture into unknown territory; they often begin fearlessly but wind up mad or maimed by their experiences, often at the hands of evil women. In an odd way, Kwaidan resembles a series of film noir tales. Ultimately, though, it is a series of very spooky ghost stories, clearly mounted with great skill on lovingly constructed studio sets (designed by Shigemasa Toda), whose artificiality actually ratchets up the sense of dislocation.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/20/2015
UPC:
0715515158916
Original Release:
1964
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
A
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
3:03:00
Sales rank:
10,705

Special Features

New audio commentary by film historian Stephen Prince; Interview with Kobayashi from 1993, conducted by filmmaker Masahiro Shinoda; New interview with assistant director Kiyoshi Ogasawara; New piece about author Lafcadio Hearn, on whose versions of Japanese folktales Kwaidan is based.; Trailers

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Rentaro Mikuni Samurai
Michiyo Aratama First Wife
Misako Watanabe Second Wife
Keiko Kishi Actor
Tetsuro Tamba Michi
Tatsuya Nakadai Woodcutter
Katsuo Nakamura Hoichi
Ganemon Nakamura Kannai
Joichi Hayashi Yoshitsune
Noboru Nakaya Heinai
Ganjiro Nakamura Head Priest
Takashi Shimura Priest
Jun Tazaki Actor

Technical Credits
Masaki Kobayashi Director
Yoshio Miyajima Cinematographer
Yoko Mizuki Screenwriter
Hisashi Sagara Editor
Toru Takemitsu Score Composer
Shigemasa Toda Art Director
Shigeru Wakatsuki Producer

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Customer Reviews

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Kwaidan 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was really good. I highly RECOMEND it!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
highly recommend this film, very spooky and chilling. a must watch especially during the halloween season.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best in fiction horror! Well written, directed, and performed.
The_Beastlord_Slavedragon More than 1 year ago
This is a vingette of four if I remember correctly. One is about hair. One is about a Ghost Princess and her ladies in waiting. One features a cameo appearance by Akira Kurosawa; But the most memorable short is about the blind Monk Hoichi, who is invited the graves of the Heike and the Genji clans at the bottom of the sea. This is some of the greatest singing and string playing (Koto)which I have ever had the honour to listen to in my entire life. Beastdragon
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Darth_Nihilus More than 1 year ago
This is a vingette of four if I remember correctly. One is about hair. One is about a Ghost Princess and her ladies in waiting. One features a cameo appearance by Akira Kurosawa; But the most memorable short is about the blind Monk Hoichi, who is invited the graves of the Heike and the Genji clans at the bottom of the sea. This is some of the greatest singing and string playing (Koto)which I have ever had the honour to listen to in my entire life. Beastdragon