An excellently crafted re-telling of an old Japanese folk tale about the legendary practice of obasute. The film explores the human relationships within this practice, particularly between the main character Orin and her widower son. It was a very beautiful film, both in terms of the plot and the visuals. Despite the bleak subject it is extremely vibrant. I assume there was also an influence from Kabuki theatre.
Same rating as Imamura's adaptation 25 years later, yet the two couldn't be more different. Kinoshita opted to render Fukazawa's novel in the form of a traditional kabuki, the drama of the extraordinary. The tale of nature unfolds entirely within the artifice of the soundstage, leveraging tricks of the kabuki trade with breathtaking sleight of hand. How ethereal the mother-son bond, the more unreal the staging gets.
Sumptuously shot, entirely on studio, in regal color this filmic depiction of the savage ritual creates ample space for sympathy for the eldrerly woman's (major Tanaka performance) resignation and captures the tragic dilemma of the family and the community. The gorgeous lighting functions like a (Kabuki) distantiation effect, only to enhance the permeation of a magical experience from beginning to end. Stunning!
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
As poignant and beautiful as the last 15 minutes were, I can't let go of the distraction the vocals became at certain points of the film. You don't drown out Kinuyo Tanaka's voice with moaning and wailing, regardless of the fidelity to the Japanese theatrical tradition.
Keisuke Kinoshita's breathtaking tale of the Japanese legend of Obasute, in which village elders must be taken to die atop Mount Narayama when they reach the age of 70, is a haunting exploration of strict adherence to tradition and the neverending cycle of mortality. Staged in the tradition of Kabuki theatre, the film is shot completely on sound stages, as if it were a filmed play, finding beauty in artifice.