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Kwaidan (Widescreen) (The Criterion Collection)
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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
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Top Customer Reviews
1.At last! The beautiful KWAIDAN on DVD! We can expect even better color and visuals than even the VHS transfers.
2. KWAIDAN was originally released on two (count 'em: two) VHS tapes. It's long!
On VHS, at 2-and-one-half-plus hours, the new release on a one-tape cassette version is pushing it, and prone to damage. ( I've had similar problems with my one-cassette VHS edition of Bergman's lengthy 'Scenes from a Marriage.') Get a DVD player, and the KWAIDAN DVD, in preference to the more fragile one-cassette VHS release.
3. Despite its careful pacing this film is scary. One two tape edition was released with warnings on the box that KWAIDAN is not for children.
KWAIDAN is not for the pacemaker crowd, either. Like watching Bergman, be sure you've been eating your Wheaties. You may not actually need a doctor's clearance to watch KWAIDAN, however... but be forewarned: KWAIDAN is a powerful film, full of surprises.
4. "slow?" Broaden your horizons ... think of film from a new point of view. Films like KWAIDAN use such pacing to contribute to the film's overall impact. Director's use pacing of whatever type, for a reason. Better than rushing thru the experience, believe me. Put your ideas about Disney-paced ghost stories aside, please. Kwaidan is a work of art, to put it in a nutshell.
Give yourself the time and chance to get into KWAIDAN. It's worth it. Time well-repaid, you will be richly rewarded.
5. "Only four stories?" some reverse psychology hiding in such an idea: would that all similar oriental ghost stories could receive a similar excellent/superior treatment!Read more ›
This is also a movie about the art of telling a story. As is often the case with storytelling, it's not the story itself that is important, but rather the WAY the story is told that captures our fancy. Take, for instance, one the film's best stories, "Hoichi the Earless." In the old Japan, the story of the Heike clan's demise was often recited by biwa hoshi, blind musician/singers who performed the work before audiences. It's this oral tradition that we encounter in the Hoichi story. The combination of the storyteller's dramatic recitation of the Heike clan's last stand and Kobayashi's hauntingly beautiful images is simply mesmerizing.
You may not come away liking this movie as much as I do. But you should see it at least once in your lifetime. If you are like me, this film will stay with you for a very long time.
If you were moved by the flow of his notes in "Woman in the Dunes" or were intrigued with Masaru Sato's amazing score for "Yojimbo", this will take you to a completely new level of listening. It's an absolute aural masterpiece from this high master of film music!
Of course, this is only my opinion but I usually listen to movies more carefully than I watch them. You'll just have to trust my ears and their taste on this one.
Most recent customer reviews
This is longer than any previous version, including the earlier Criterion edition. One seen, never forgotten.Published 6 months ago by Art Booklover
Great movie with surreal settings, maybe a bit slow for younger audiences, but will appeal to those who enjoy international movies and an opportunity to see into a different... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Chris Boxall
A series of ghost stories in the style of a "nouvelle litteraire." Very atmospheric, eerie, with beautiful execution. Read morePublished 10 months ago by jay
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
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