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1,899 Ratings


Kaidan | 怪談

Directed by Masaki Kobayashi
Japan, 1964
Horror, Fantasy


Kwaidan features four nightmarish tales in which terror thrives and demons lurk, from an arrogant nobleman who wrongs his wife to a blind bard who ventures into darkness.

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Kwaidan Directed by Masaki Kobayashi

Awards & Festivals

Cannes Film Festival

1965 | Winner: Special Jury Prize

Academy Awards

1966 | Nominee: Best Foreign Language Film

It was one of the most expensive films ever made in Japan (not to mention an Oscar nominee), yet it’s not just interested in cinema as a modern, state-of-the-art medium, but in how cinema could best evoke much older (and quintessentially Japanese) forms of expression. The cinematic techniques are a model of precision and virtuosity. But this also may be the best cinema did at capturing the feeling of folklore, painting, or epic poetry.
October 31, 2017
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Most of Kobayashi’s work is in black and white, but in Kwaidan he evokes a world of heavily stylized colour, and creates one of the most sensual and strangely evocative supernatural films ever made. It remains one-of-a-kind not only for Kobayashi, but also for what has been loosely called ‘the horror film’: Kwaidan doesn’t deal in shock imagery, but rather in an ever-mounting sense of psychological dread.
June 30, 2016
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Although the American version of “Kwaidan” included only these three stories, the Criterion release reinstates a fourth, “The Woman of Snow,” about a female demon who takes pity on a young woodcutter, up to a point. Here, too, Kobayashi plays with stage conventions (dramatic changes in lighting, painted backdrops, artificial snow). The sequence is exquisitely designed, but even more impressive is the avant-garde composer Toru Takemitsu’s spare, percussive score.
November 04, 2015
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