Narayama bushiko (Ballad of Narayama) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Narayama bushiko (Ballad of Narayama) Reviews

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½ November 4, 2017
Beautiful beautiful technicolor! Oh how beautiful the colors are in this movie. What really amazed me was the way the scenes would transition sometimes as if it we're a stage piece. It's beautiful how they do it.

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.
½ June 8, 2017
The matte paintings and artificial sets are spectacular and, even though the direction has much to be desired, the last 25 minutes of this film are spellbinding.
½ March 12, 2017
The set looks nice but I'm defintely not going to Narayama, bichis!
March 8, 2017
This is a hard movie to digest. Western viewers may find the pace and style trying, and the old-timey Japanese themes may be lost in translation. However, I'm not sure I would have liked a more realistic version of this film. The artificial style makes it easier to accept the act of abandoning your parents to die. Fascinating movie, overall.
December 19, 2016
The Ballad of Narayama (1958)

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.
½ March 21, 2016
Adapted from a novel by Shichiro Fukazawa, The Ballad of Narayama is built around an ancient Japanese custom. Centuries ago, it was customary for the younger citizens of a remote Japanese mountain village to shepherd all those over the age of seventy to the snowy crags of Mt. Narayama. There the elders would be left to die from exposure and starvation--a fate they were expected to meet with stoic resignation. As the film observes, this custom was not universally accepted even in ancient times: Some of the old folks put up a physical struggle against their exile, others accept the inevitable under verbal protest, and some of the younger relatives question whether they have the right to go along with this questionable "cleansing" process. Heartbreakingly brilliant, The Ballad of Narayama was remade in 1983; the latter version won the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
June 20, 2015
Grandma found herself a set of 33 demon teeth
August 5, 2014
The Ballad Of Narayama is one of the most peculiar Japanese films I've ever seen. Though I was aware of the plot, nothing can really prepare you for it as it is something of its own identity. It's hard to really put into words what makes the film it is, as its numerous intriguing elements are all superbly made, but it's something of which you will probably never see the likes of again. It's something that feels very steeped in Japanese culture, so perhaps I'm enjoying it only as an ignorant foreigner because of how fascinating and strange it is to me as an American. But, if I'm only enjoying it as an exotic piece, then never let me wake from such blissful ignorance because it's something truly exceptional in my eyes.

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.
July 22, 2014
I appreciate and admire the film's deliberate style and pacing, but I just found myself losing more and more patience with the story as it went on.
Super Reviewer
½ June 13, 2014
Wow, that was horrible. Can't believe I actually sat through it.
Good, but horrible. Although, truthfully I can think of a few 70+ people I know who could do with going up that mountain!
½ June 8, 2014
For such a short movie, I thought I would also turn 70 by the end of this! Maybe the novel this movie inspired should have been a short story? Regardless, the combination of film and stage techniques creates several unique effects, and the story celebrates humanity at the same time its characters are on the edge of oblivion. Will someone please make a movie out of the song in this about an old woman who gains powerful teeth from a deal with demons?
November 22, 2013
A rather obscure film that needs to be seen by a modern audience.
Super Reviewer
½ November 11, 2013
A brilliant and methodically made and enacted Japanese classic. This was also the last of the "Great Films" in the great Roger Ebert's film reviews section. The film is one of sadness and the ending of life, an era that will lead to new beginnings hopefully. I believe it will, like the film portrays, mean the Mr Ebert is in a better place now.
½ August 21, 2013
The Ballad of Narayama (Japanese: 楢山節考 Narayama Bushikō) Japanese period film directed by Keisuke Kinoshita. It is based on the book Men of Tohoku by Shichirō Fukazawa. Film starsr Kinuyo Tanaka as Orin. The film was Japanese contender for Best Foreign Language Oscar Award but could not make it to final list.

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.
½ July 20, 2013
Simple, gorgeous, brilliant.
June 30, 2013
A beautiful film. Shot entirely on sets, every scene is wonderfully lit and expertly composed.
June 12, 2013
The colorful refulgence of the cinematography was hypnotizing, but the pace was pretty slow in many places. Nevertheless, the boisterous theatricality and the naturalistic performances made the film worth while.
½ June 2, 2013
The Ballad of Narayama follows one family who is coping with their grandmother's upcoming participation in a village ritual. This ritual holds that at age 70, a person will travel to a mountain called Narayama where they will stay until their passing. There are no support systems or supplies on Narayama, so the elderly starve or succomb to the elements. You see a variety of feelings toward the ritual displayed within the family and their village from apprehension to encouragement.

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.
½ May 20, 2013
2.5: Interesting film. I can see Obayashi's masterpiece "House" from two decades later perhaps being inspired by this Japanese folk tale come to life. The sets and colors are rather remarkable. The garish and overstated colors explode off the screen and the transitions and lighting are anything but natural. It creates an otherworldly mood perfectly suited to the rather sinister story (once villagers turn 70 they are carried up to a mountain top to die). It seems like an expanded stage play as well; I certainly imagine it would be superb on the stage. As depicted here, the life of a rural Japanese village in the past would been idyllic, tough, and unforgiving. I can't say I loved the film, but it was another piece in my Japanese film education. I much prefer Ozu and Kurosawa. This was rather too impressionistic and somewhat plodding for my tastes or at least for the mood I was in.
April 26, 2013
In addition to the lush Kabuki-style version, there is also the Cannes winning 1983 version, which is available on DVD from Netflix. The newer film is starker and more realistic and is certainly worth the accolades it has received. But the original film has a lyrical beauty and keeps the family drama to the center of the story more closely. The theatrical backdrops are gorgeous and enhance the natural feel of the movie while at the same time providing some interesting touches of drama. I gave 4 stars to the 1983 version, but I give 5 stars all the way to the original. There is a kind of sweet irony that this film about aging and death is the final film Ebert added to his famous list of Great Films.
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