Most of the conflict is saved for the third act, and the movie is a little too blunt about its political points at times. But in the broader context of Japanese culture, Kaneto Shindo's apparent disdain for government is interesting. The atmosphere is the real selling point, though. The camera motions, compositions, the theatrical expressionism (those spotlights; those stages) are just delectable.
The photography in this picture is to die for. Japanese DOA's at the time really had a good hang of the low key aesthetic. Additionally, the shots in and of the eerie forest and the ritualistic movements were a joy to watch. On the other hand, I'm a bit over the phallic / oedipal narratives that seem to dominate a lot of these Japanese films from that era. If done right they're amazing, if not it's just average.
3,5 If you're slightly familiar with multiple medieval debates and iconographic evolutions surrounding the “identity” of the apparition that showed up during the necromantic session when Saul asked witch of Endor to predict his future (Was the dead brought back to life? Had his “spirit” appeared? Did the witch trick the king? Had the devil resurrected a “phantasm” under the guise of Samuel? Had Satan himself assumed
Great score. Shindo uses old lore to pull off some of the most irreverent, feminist subtext I've ever seen, all the way to the end. Even though rape is central to this allegory, sexuality is clearly separate & superbly well-played. Victimhood doesn't ultimately own these women, nor even does revenge. Likewise, the tragedy of imposed hierarchy is shared. I was impressed. My buddy fell asleep halfway into it.
I was a bit put off by the minimal (and not particularly artful) sound design and repetitive structure early in the film, but Shindô's theatrical staging in the 2nd act is fascinating. With lateral tracking shots, and in particularly creative changes in camera height, Shindô dynamically captures the interplay between two or three characters.
With each passing second, Kuroneko sucks you into its ghostly realm exponentially. At first, it seems more mood and plot than story heavy, but once the long setup for context is established, the narrative deepens and becomes layered and poignant before it ends to make your heart bleed. It tells us symbolically that war is something that everyone loses in. Hate and revenge just means more-and-more bloodshed.
Shindo returned to the ghost story world after his success with ONIBABA. This time with two ghostly vampiric cat women. While it has good atmospheric cinematography and interesting storyline, the film itself plays out like the pervious one. Again, it'd make a puurrrr-fect double feature with ONIBABA.
Gorgeously stylized, with imagery both beautiful and frightening. Told in movements, dances, killings, and emotions, this film unravels like a poem, a simple fable with profound meaning told effectively. A love story and a tale of revenge, about the damage that is done when unspeakable crimes are committed.