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Winner of the Special Jury Prize at Cannes, Kwaidan features four nightmarish tales in which terror thrives and demons lurk. Adapted from traditional Japanese ghost stories, this lavish, widescreen production drew extensively on Kobayashi's own training as a student of painting and fine arts. Criterion is proud to present Kwaidan in a new ravishing color transfer.
A masterpiece of filmmaking artifice and mood-setting atmosphere, Kwaidan consists of four ghost stories adapted from the fiction of Greek-born Lafcadio Hearn (a.k.a. Yakumo Koizumi, 1850-1904), who assimilated into Japanese culture so thoroughly that his writings reveal no evidence of Western influence. So it is that these four cinematic interpretations--perhaps more accurately described as tales of spectral visitation--are sublimely Japanese in tone and texture, created entirely in a studio with frequently stunning results. There are painterly images here that remain the most beautiful and haunting in all of Japanese cinema, presented with the purity of silent film, sparsely accompanied by post-synchronized sounds and music (by Toru Takemitsu) that enhance the otherworldly effect of director Masaki Kobayashi's meticulous imagery. When viewed in a receptive frame of mind, Kwaidan can be intensely hypnotic.
Each of the four stories find their protagonists confronted by spirits that compel them to (respectively) make amends for past mistakes, maintain vows of silence, satisfy the yearnings of the undead, or capture phantoms that remain frightfully elusive. As each tale progresses, their supernatural elements grow increasingly intense and distant from the confines of reality. With careful use of glorious color and wide-screen composition, Kwaidan exists in a netherworld that is both real and imagined, its characters never quite sure they can trust what they've seen and heard. Vastly different from the more overt shocks of Western horror, the film casts a supernatural spell that remains timelessly effective. --Jeff Shannon
Do you like ghost stories or old legends? Do you like movies with a dream-like quality, where all the scenes look like paintings? If you do, then this is the movie for you. Read morePublished on April 2 2013 by Alexandra
Anthology of ghost stories adapted from Lafcadio Hearn , American writer who lived in Japan .
The third chapter is the best. Read more
Lesson 1, always look at the date of the movie and then read the premise. I always read the premise, get the movie and then once it's in, realize that it's more of a Sinbad... Read morePublished on June 18 2004 by pablo
Kwaidan, though it has some flaws in regard to pacing (it moves just too slowly sometimes) is a visually striking, very colorful film that is a pleasure to look at. Read morePublished on June 13 2004
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD of the film.
When seeing this film, one will be shocked that is based on the book written by an Irish/Greek man who lived in... Read more
The photography in this film is alive! The sets and costumes are vibrant and brilliantly hued and the cinematography captures it in all its painted glory! But besides that... Read morePublished on March 1 2004 by D. Knouse
This is one of those tried and true Criterion titles of yore, and let me tell you, it's a shaggy dog of a movie -- each one of these stories has the same frickin punchline --... Read morePublished on Jan. 16 2004 by C.J. Hustwick
I remember seeing this movie on halloween night of 2002 on IFC when they were playing the most beautiful and bizarre films ever made, after watching a lot of classic american... Read morePublished on Aug. 30 2003 by The man under your bed . . .
I just loved this movie after I finished watching it. That old-japanese-movie-style was perfect, showing and reiterating over and over again the great devotion that the Japaneses... Read morePublished on Aug. 18 2003 by "panyafe"