From two-time Palme d’Or-winning director Shohei Imamura comes an unforgettable human drama and a milestone in Japanese Cinema. The Ballad of Narayama is a brutal and haunting meditation on the nature of life, sex and death.
Over 100 years ago in a small village in a remote valley, everyone who reaches the age of 70 is banished to the top of a mountain to die. Old Orin (Sumiko Sakamoto) has her family’s affairs to take care of before she too must go. Orin seeks a new wife for her widowed eldest son Tatsuhei (Ken Ogata: Mishima, The Pillow Book), she tries to help her runtish second son lose his virginity and to take her brattish eldest grandson – who cavorts with the young women of the village – down several pegs. When it comes time for Orin to depart, tradition demands that Tatsuhei carry her up the mountain on his back in silence.
With exquisite cinematography and captivating performances, this universally acclaimed masterpiece is confronting, erotic and awe-inspiring. –Umbrella Entertainment
Shohei Imamura’s ribald, darkly comic films about messy human relationships and coarse, indomitable women repelled early European critics who had grown to cherish the graceful, exotic image of Japan typified by Kenji Mizoguchi films. Yet Imamura remains a critically important director, both as one of the seminal Japanese New Wave directors (along with Nagisa Oshima and Masahiro Shinoda) and as a chronicler of a side of Japan rarely seen in Mizoguchi movies or tourist brochures.
Born in 1926, in Tokyo, Imamura attended the elite elementary and middle schools that normally would have aimed him toward a prestigious university degree and a comfortable career in business or government. His love of theater and loathing of bourgeois presumptions, however, steered him away from a conventional lifestyle. When he failed the entrance exam for the agriculture program at the national university in Hokkaido, he enrolled in a technical school to evade the draft. The day the Pacific War ended… read more
Perhaps my favorite theatrical lighting design ever put to celluloid. A vivid hypnotizing nightmare which evolves into a deeply personal and touching tale of family dynamics. Uniquely constructed performances and striking action. With the heart of Kurosawa's Madadayo, subject matter akin to Ozu and a delivery similar to Kuroneko by Kindo, this film is a summation of all things bold in Japanese cinema. Blown away
People and animals occupies the same space in many of Imamura's films. A small village community and surrounding wildlife are impressively depicted in comparison. In this brutal tale, natural elements are one with omnipresent spirituality. To my attention, films in these settings seems unimportant today, but they're not! What this legend inspires is to look beyond daily hardships and embrace life as it is; valuable.