I don't have a firm enough grasp on the essence of what this film is doing to make any definitive comments, but this has to be Imamura's masterpiece, certainly the one which most transcends the clear-cut parameters of his thematic interests. The delicate but potent relationship between human & animal here becomes something else entirely in the face of eternity. We're very close to a spiritual epiphany by its closing.
The promise of spirituality to transcend the violence and the filth. This was also a great subject of Mizoguchi's films in the 50s, but Imamura tackles it from a much more godless angle. This is a stunning vision of the world, spasming with brutality and animal urges, dark but ultimately not cheap or facile. The combination of beauty and ugliness in the final half hour is masterful—and indeed, transcendent.
It's interesting, and has some amazing moments, but it's not as exciting as Imamura's other films. It lacks the visual pizazz of his earlier productions, and it's a bit uneven at times. Still, it was quite the experience. Especially the scene with Shiro.
Beautiful cinematography, and an unsusal story about the survival instincts of a ancient Japanese village. Though sometimes what we see is brutal and irrational (selling children, burying thieving villagers alive), the characters never lose any of their humanity. A lesser director wouldn't have been able to pull off such a feat. The acting is great all around, but Sumiko Sakamoto as Old Orin is a standout.
People and animals occupies the same space in many of Imamura's films. A small village community and surrounding wildlife are impressively depicted in comparison. In this brutal tale, natural elements are one with omnipresent spirituality. To my attention, films in these settings seems unimportant today, but they're not! What this legend inspires is to look beyond daily hardships and embrace life as it is; valuable.