Adapted from a novel by Shichiro Fukazawa, The Ballad of Narayama is built around an ancient Japanese custom. Centuries ago, it was customary for the younger citizens of a remote Japanese mountain village to shepherd all those over the age of seventy to the snowy crags of Mt. Narayama. There the elders would be left to die from exposure and starvation--a fate they were expected to meet with stoic resignation. As the film observes, this custom was not universally accepted even in ancient times: Some of the old folks put up a physical struggle against their exile, others accept the inevitable under verbal protest, and some of the younger relatives question whether they have the right to go along with this questionable "cleansing" process. Heartbreakingly brilliant, The Ballad of Narayama was remade in 1983; the latter version won the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.