“An ironic but life-affirming commentary on our so-called civilization by contrasting it with the manners and customs in a primitive Japanese mountain village 100 years ago.”
— Vincent Canby, The New York Times
Synopsis: In a remote village, an unusual custom is practiced: elders who have reached the age of 70 are taken to the summit of Mount Narayama, where they are left to die. Orin, 69, although still vital, is prepared to make this journey. But before she goes, she needs to identify a wife for one of her sons, find a woman to sleep with a younger son, and deal with a slew of messy troubles. All of a sudden, the solemn theme of death takes a backseat as human desires, animal instincts, and the forces of nature are fully experienced. This Palme d’Or winner explores the essence that binds human beings, animals, and nature in a passionate way that is uniquely Imamura. Print courtesy of Japan Foundation.
Imamura's film is actually a more realistically filmed remake of Keisuke Kinoshita's 1958 kabuki-flavored telling of a traditional Japanese folk legend. For those who are interested, Kinoshita's The Ballad of Narayama is available from The Criterion Collection as either a Blu-ray or DVD. I have the Blu-ray and highly recommend it.
Saturday's screening of The Ballad of Narayama is part of the film series Vengeance Is Shohei Imamura (January 17-February 1, 2014). The series is co-presented with Japan Foundation and is part of Citi Series on Asian Arts and Culture.
This is a fantastic opportunity to see this outstanding film in 35mm, and I urge all who can attend to do so.