Narayama bushiko (Ballad of Narayama) Reviews
I found pretty funny how the narrator sings what's happening. Very atmospheric at times. Th use of color and lighting was done wonderfully.
What got me the most was when they actually reach the top of the mountain and you see all the people that have been there before them. It's at that moment you realize what the whole purpose of the mountain top is. Quite haunting.
Kind of messed up and sad the whole thing but it's sort of a metaphor to leaving your mother behind in order to move on or something like that. Or it's just plain and simple that tradition really sucks balls.
The only thing I didn't like, and it's a pretty big thing, is that the movie moves really slow and is boring at times. I get that it's sort of a meditative movie but move it along, you know.
Anyway you want to see it, it was a good beauty of a movie.
The sad sounds of Japanese Kabuki theater are shown in Keisuke Kinoshita's film about an impoverished village where the elderly are carried off to a nearby mountain to die. The film is all shot on sound stages with beautiful sets that show the different times of the season. Curtains will drop in the background to create the dark evenings. I'm not a fan of musicals normally, but the Kabuki style balladeer narration is kind of cool here, although it evokes the depressing tragedy.
Granny Orin (Kinuyo Tanaka) is a healthy, generous, and productive matriarch. She turns 70 and is looking forward to her trip up to the Narayama mountain to meet the mountain deity. Her widowed son, Tatsuhei (Teiji Takahashi) deeply loves his mom and appreciates all that she does for the family, but it is an expected tradition in the poor community. In fact, many in Granny Orin's family are anxious to see her leave the house.
She finds Tatsuhei a wife to make sure that his family is well taken care of and even shows the wife her secret fishing hole that helps to feed the family. This film was re-made in 1983, and even that was award-winning.
In a mountain village, it is customary for citizens who reach the age of 70 to be taken up to Mount Narayama and be left to die by their families to basically make room for the younger generations.
The story follows a woman named Orin, who is a beloved woman in not only her family, but the village as a whole because of her exceptional kindness to anyone she meets. Unlike some people her age who don't want to accept their fates of being taken to Narayama, she seems to be willing and happy about her journey to be taken at the beginning of the new year. She becomes fully at rest with her fate when her widowed son gets a new wife who was also widowed, so now she no longer has to worry about him, while her awful, mean-spirited grandson is expecting a child of his own (And sings cruel folk songs about his grandmother and seems eager for her to die and make room in their ever-crowding home).
Her son, however, is dismayed by the fact that not only is his mother's time almost up, but he is the one who must take her to Narayama and leave her to die of exposure and starvation. The family spends their precious little time together as best they can, before her cruel journey to her demise begins.
He must also experience his own spiritual experience during this journey on the mountain, as well as Orin, as she prepares herself to meet the gods and be at peace when she finally dies.
The story feels like a dark, saddening fable. Though such a thing was considered customary in ancient times, it's certainly something alien and horrifying to a viewer when they begin watching this film. It was a hard pill to swallow at first, as I was left going, "What the fuck is wrong with these people?!" frequently. But, as the viewer follows, especially as they gauge the emotions of the characters and the overall cultural feeling about death, something strange begins to occur. Make no mistake, I still think that the ritual is quite cruel, but there was something in the way that they embrace death - no regrets, no worries about loved ones, acceptance even though their deaths will be awful and torturous, and their attempts at gaining a spiritual enlightenment that seemed to ease my thoughts. They also display the torments of Orin's son, as this is something that is in no way easy, as death is a hard fact of life that is hard to accept. The best way I can sum it up is that it shows death on two different levels: acceptance as a fact, and also showing the harsh reality of not wanting to accept it. Still, the story offers to many things that it will require multiple viewings to really piece together all that it has to say. But its main themes revolve around death, family, and spirituality.
The acting is very good, especially from Kinuyo Tanaka as Orin. She delivers the best performance in the film and there was a kind of gentleness to her even with her character's horrible fate awaiting her. She had a very easygoing and subtle performance that proves to be quite powerful, especially with the ending when you see her praying to the gods while snow covers her and she seems unfazed by the elements around her, achieving her spirituality it seems, though nothing in this film is deciphered easily. The rest of the actors are also really good, especially the actor playing the son as he is forced to endure this ritual and leave his own mother to die on the mountain.
The Ballad Of Narayama isn't easy to watch, offers no easy answers, and may even disturb the viewer with its themes, but if you really take the time to absorb all it has to say and what it does, it's something special. It's a challenging and emotional film that tells a sad, but also strangely uplifting tale about death and coming to terms with your life up to that point. It also has startling and beautiful imagery, making it not only feel like a sad fable, but also like some sort of strange play you're following. It's something all its own and there are many emotions the viewer will feel as they process all that it has to say, even if what it has to say is cruel, harsh, and soul-crushing at times about life. It's a magnificent film that is worth watching, but you have to be careful with it.
Good, but horrible. Although, truthfully I can think of a few 70+ people I know who could do with going up that mountain!
Set in 19th century in mountainous small village suffering from food scarcity - where 69 year-old Orin is taking care of her house with her recently widowed son, and bad-mouthed grandson; who popularizes the song critical of 33 healthy teeth of granny at the surprise age of 69; making her feel embarrassed everywhere, to be able to chew on roasted beans and foods. She is waiting to get her son laid before she departs for neighboring mountain called Narayama to starve or dehydrate to death due to food-scarcity.
The Ballad of Narayama follows style of Kabuki Theater - harsh practice of Ubasute is nowhere else have been so logically defined or morphed than here in Keisuke Kinoshita. I like folklore narration of the movie, keeping you stick in your chair.
It leaves mark on the evil of society that motivates the actions to be put in efforts to deject someone as beloved to you as parents. In Pakistani society, it is rather matter of shame and embarrassment of children to ignore to look after their parents in their old age.
Of-course not all shall find above mentioned messages upto their societal upbringing; but to people with integrity, consciousness, manners and etiquettes, everything that speaks in favor of parents mean so much more.
Each frame of this movie is simply gorgeous. I wish I could have found a good clip to post here, so that you could see. The use of color both on the set and in manipulative lighting is a feat within itself. The plot drifts slowly and the acting tends to be very stoic, but the visuals will keep you engaged.