The ballad of Narayama

The ballad of Narayama

DVD - 2013 | Japanese
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This haunting, kabuki-inflected version of a Japanese folk legend is set in a remote mountain village, where food is scarce and tradition dictates that citizens who have reached their seventieth year must be carried to the summit of Mount Narayama and left there to die. The sacrificial elder at the center of the tale is Orin, a dignified and dutiful woman who spends her dwindling days securing the happiness of her loyal widowed son with a respectable new wife.
Publisher: [United States] : Distributed by Image Entertainment, [2013]
Branch Call Number: DVD (JAPAN- ESE)
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (ca. 98 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 booklet (20 p. : ill ; 19 cm.)


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Feb 14, 2018

This is an incredibly sad film - it can even induce despondency and fear (of death, of loss of loved ones...); the weird music has a quality that can just twist the knife of grief a little, and few minutes later do it again, and again a few minutes later and so on till the end of the film. It was clearly filmed in a studio, but the dramatic structure of the work takes one's attention away from such superficialities.

Feb 04, 2018

Interesting portrayal of woman's fervent faith in her gods so that she more than willingly goes to her death

Feb 06, 2016

Not as emotionally involving as the later, more realistic, film.

But the trees and the mountains and the skies are more beautiful than real trees and mountains and skies

Jan 03, 2016

(1) This is a serious drama produced in movie format. Watch this movie as if you were in a theatre watching a classic drama. Then, you will realise the beauty of the stage arrangement & the ancient Japanese string music. Every movement (& dance) of each character has specific meaning, as in typical, good drama; as in every mime in classical ballet. (2) The story is about a poor village in ancient Japan. When a man reached 70 or a woman reached 60 & yet died, they would follow the tradition ("festival") and ask their eldest son to carry them to the top of the mountain ("Narayama") behind the village and left died there. (3) Along the movie, audience can see how the old mother thoughtfully did & prepared everything for her sons and daughter-in-law before the festival. (4) At the end of the movie, the drama effect came in. Why was there a handful of rice on the left? Why kneeling on a mat? Why Buddha pearls in hands? Etc. If you know Japanese culture, you will understand why. They are all meanings & Japanese philosophies. Excellent drama!

Froster Sep 17, 2013

Another Japanese classic one watches on “fast-forward”. (My, they do drag on so, don’t they?) This one is notable for the heightened theatricality of its sound stage setting. Unfortunately, its reverence for Kabuki does nothing for its relate-ability. Considering the seriousness of intent (the tragedy of ubasute, or “elder sacrifice”), its staginess does distance us from the emotions involved. Be that as it may, the style has reverberated through “Kill Bill”, “One from the Heart”, and ”Mishima” . It’s very important, obviously, but primarily for subsequent filmmakers. As for the rest of us….it’s akin to slow death on a mountaintop.


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