The Ballad of Narayama (1984) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Ballad of Narayama1984

The Ballad of Narayama (1984)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Ballad of Narayama Photos

Movie Info

This film is based on Shichiro Fukazawa's novel and is set in the 19th century in a severely impoverished mountain village in northern Japan. In this fictional society, once the elderly have reached the age of 70 they are brought up Mount Nara, where ancient gods reside, and left to die.


Ken Ogata
as Tatsuhei
Takejo Aki
as Tamayan
Seiji Kurasaki
as Kesakichi
Kaoru Shimamori
as Tomekichi
Nijiko Kiyokawa
as Old widow Okane
Mitsuko Baisho
as Young Widow Oei
Norihei Miki
as Old salt dealer
Sachie Shimura
as Amaya's Wife
Masami Okamoto
as Amaya's Son
Keishi Takamine
as Arayashiki
View All

Critic Reviews for The Ballad of Narayama

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (2)

A fascinating experience.

June 19, 2018 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Imamura's rough sexual humor is still in evidence, but now it has taken on a dark tone: to make love is to flirt with death.

February 8, 2010 | Full Review…

in this hermetic world... Imamura captures a truly universal, all-encompassing experience, showing the transmission of virtues and vices from one generation to the next in the service of life's tenacious continuity.

June 1, 2016 | Full Review…

A good movie that could have been truly great

August 5, 2009 | Rating: 66/100 | Full Review…

A masterpiece of the human condition...[but] below the very peak of Imamura's filmmaking powers.

September 29, 2008 | Rating: 8/10 | Full Review…

a remarkable comedy/drama that lives up to that overused adjective: haunting

August 2, 2008 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Ballad of Narayama

Shohei Imamura present a great tale, the struggle of a mother to accomplish all the necessity of your family, before her death. With the perfect direction, and screenplay, The Ballad of Narayma, show too the sexual perform of her sons and the violent way of life that the community live together. Narayma, bring too a strange dark humor, shocking scenes and the difficulty of a son to comply an cold tradition. Certainly, deserve win the Palme d'or in 1983. Fresh.

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer


[font=Century Gothic]"The Ballad of Narayama" is an earthy and heavily symbolic movie with a hint of the supernatural about a peasant village, barely subsisting on whatever crops and animals they raise. One single misfortune for a family can affect the entire village. So tight are things, there is an unwritten law that when a citizen reaches the age of 70 and supposedly cannot contribute anymore, they are carried on the back of their son to the mountain and left behind as a tribute to the mountain god.(How does this differ from how the elderly are treated today?) [/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]The focus in "The Ballad of Narayama" is on one representative family that demonstrates as equal as everything is for the people in the village, there is something of a pecking order. Tatsuhei's(Ken Ogata) wife just died(Though some do make it to a ripe old age, many others die young.) and Tama(Aki Takejo) has just arrived from a neighboring village to be his new wife just in time for the local festival. His brother Risuke(Tonpei Hidari) is a second son, a yakko forbidden from marrying. Even in this group, he is at the low end due to his offensive odor. Their mother Orin(Sumiko Sakamato) is 69 years old and in good health with all her teeth intact until she knocks out two on purpose. She is looking forward to her trip to the mountain to be reunited with her late husband and ending her life of hardship.[/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

This movie was a treat!! It has everything: humor, drama, great characters and a beautiful story. It's situated in a peasant village, where everybody has to struggle to keep the mouths of their families fed. The people are submitted to strict rules to make sure that everything doesn't spin out of control. One of the rules is that when a person turns 70, they have to be carried off to the mountain of Narayama by the eldest son where they are left to die. The story revolves around Orin, the 69 year old mother and her family, a colorful collection of characters that find their way into your heart effortlessly.

Saskia D.
Saskia D.

Super Reviewer

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