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4.2
1,759 Ratings

Kwaidan

Kaidan

Directed by Masaki Kobayashi
Japan, 1964
Horror, Fantasy

Synopsis

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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