Onibaba

Onibaba

Director: Kaneto Shindo

Cast: Kaneto Shindo, Nobuko Otowa, Jitsuko Yoshimura, Kei Sato

     
 
One of the most acclaimed horror films in cinema history, Kaneto Shindo's chilling, psychosexual fable arrives on DVD courtesy of The Criterion Collection. Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, the image is spectacular. From establishing shots of an ocean of menacing grass to the horrific nighttime encounters with a hideous, steel-faced demon, the picture is

Overview

One of the most acclaimed horror films in cinema history, Kaneto Shindo's chilling, psychosexual fable arrives on DVD courtesy of The Criterion Collection. Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, the image is spectacular. From establishing shots of an ocean of menacing grass to the horrific nighttime encounters with a hideous, steel-faced demon, the picture is sharp, crisp, and vibrant. Blacks are solid and dark as night. Sound is presented in bold Dolby Digital Mono with optional, easy-to-read English subtitles. For those who doubt the power of a mono sound mix, the whipping wind and ominous thunderstorms that comprise the sound scheme are undeniably effective even without a 5.1 remix. For those not averse to a little reading, Criterion has also seen fit to include a wealth of information in the form of extensive liner notes. In addition to discussing the active career of director Shindo, Film Comment writer Chuck Stephens' lovingly detailed essay places the film in historical context while also making mention of Hikaru Hayashi's unyieldingly primal, driving score. The director himself also chimes in with an intimate discussion of his take on the Buddhist legend of "A Mask With Flesh Scared a Wife," and an extended interview with Shindo delves even deeper into both his own career and the origins of the film. An abbreviated version of the actual legend is also included so those unfamiliar with the tale may familiarize themselves with the cautionary religious yarn. For those who assume such a rural location would make for a quick, gun-and-go shoot for the cast and crew, detailed behind-the-scenes notes give testament to the grueling hardships of filming Onibaba, with accompanying photographs and Super-8 footage offering a detailed look at the day-to-day living conditions of the crew.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jonathan Crow
Brimming with ambient dread and sensuality, director/ writer Kaneto Shindo's Onibaba masterfully evokes a world of grinding desperation, feral lust, and otherworldly menace. In a patch of tall swamp grass at the edge of a war, an old woman and her nubile daughter eke out a miserable existence of killing and scavenging. When her threadbare subsistence is threatened by the presence of a rakish neighbor, the old woman tries to frighten the girl with a frightening mask. The end of the film, when her plan fails tragically, is both horrific and brilliantly absurd. In many ways, this film is similar to Kenji Mizoguchi's masterpiece Ugetsu (1953), a supernatural drama about women struggling to survive during wartime. Yet, while Mizoguchi's characters remain self-effacing and self-sacrificing, Shindo's are aggressively sexual, brutally violent, and thoroughly amoral. Onibaba is a visual tour-de-force, featuring sumptuous black-and-white cinematography, elegant horizontal camera movement, and a stark, claustrophobic visual style. It is a hypnotic, profoundly spooky work that will haunt you long after the credits roll.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/16/2004
UPC:
0037429185827
Original Release:
1964
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[B&W, Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital Mono]
Time:
1:43:00
Sales rank:
521

Special Features

New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound and enhanced for widescreen televisions; New video interview with writer/director Kaneto Shindo; Rare Super-8 black-and-white and color footage provided by actor Kei Sato, shot on location during the filming of Onibaba; Original trailer; Stills gallery featuring production sketches and promotional art; New essay by Chuck Stephens, noted critic and scholar of Asian cinema; Filmmaker's statement from Kaneto Shindo; Rare English translation of the original Buddhist fable that inspired the film; New and improved English subtitle translation; Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. The Hole [2:23]
2. A Day's Work [8:16]
3. Little Profit [3:08]
4. Back Alone [9:41]
5. Curiosity [6:37]
6. Good Business [5:08]
7. Lust [4:31]
8. Sneaking Away [3:09]
9. Suspicion [6:10]
10. "Try Me" [4:57]
11. Advice [2:27]
12. Many Hells [5:48]
13. A Samurai of Good Family [5:02]
14. For Her Son [4:51]
15. The Most Beautiful Face [5:06]
16. Oni [4:23]
17. Staying Home [3:00]
18. Through the Storm [3:35]
19. Twist of Fate [5:17]
20. A Human Being [1:44]

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