Deep within the wind-swept marshes of war-torn medieval Japan, an impoverished mother and her daughter-in-law eke out a lonely, desperate existence. Forced to murder lost samurai and sell their belongings for grain, they dump the corpses down a deep, dark hole and live off of their meager spoils. When a bedraggled neighbor returns from the skirmishes, lust, jealousy, and rage threaten to destroy the trio’s tenuous existence, before an ominous, ill-gotten demon mask seals the trio’s horrifying fate. Driven by primal emotions, dark eroticism, a frenzied score by Hikaru Hayashi, and stunning images both lyrical and macabre, Kaneto Shindo’s chilling folktale Onibaba is a singular cinematic experience. —The Criterion Collection
Japanese filmmaker/scriptwriter Kaneto Shindo’s most famous directorial efforts include The Island (1960), a nearly silent, but powerful glimpse at a lonely farmer’s daily toil, and Children of Hiroshima (1952), a wrenching and sentimental account of the city’s post-bomb aftermath. Shindo was born in Hiroshima and got his start in films as an art director during the late ’30s. Less than a decade later, he wrote his first screenplays and went on to work with a number of Japanese directors, including Kenji Mizoguchi and Kon Ichikawa. In 1950, Shindo was a co-founder of a production company. He made his directorial debut in 1951 with The Story of a Beloved Wife.
He was married to actress Nobuko Otowa (1925–1994), who appeared in several of his films. He won the 1996 Japan Academy Prize for Director of the Year for A Last Note.— allmovie guide
This brilliant and unique movie was Shindo's biggest international success. In medieval Japan a woman and her daughter-in-law survive the only way they can, by murdering wandering samurai, disposing of their bodies in a deep hole in the ground, and trading their armour and weapons for food. Complications arise when the newly widowed daughter-in-law begins to lust after a neighbour and jealousy rears its ugly head....
A look back at the best posters for the films of the great Japanese director Kaneto Shindo, who died this week at the age of 100.
Hiroshima is celebrating with a series of screenings and events running on into May.
Updated through 4/23. "A movie that has waited nearly 60 years for a US theatrical premiere and could hardly be more timely, Kaneto Shindo
With astounding black and white photography, Onibaba explores the lives of mother and daughter-in-law through a haunting world thick with symbolism and neck-high grass. What starts as a bleak profile… read review