- Actors: Rentarô Mikuni, Michiyo Aratama, Misako Watanabe, Kenjirô Ishiyama, Ranko Akagi
- Directors: Masaki Kobayashi
- Writers: Lafcadio Hearn, Yôko Mizuki
- Producers: Minoru Tabata, Satoshi Kohinata, Shigeru Wakatsuki, Takeshi Aikawa, Yoshishige Uchiyama
- Format: Anamorphic, Color, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
- Language: English, Japanese
- Subtitles: English
- Dubbed: Japanese
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Criterion
- Release Date: Oct. 1 2002
- Run Time: 183 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 47 customer reviews
- ASIN: B00004W3HF
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #46,501 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
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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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Watching KWAIDAN is a lot like sitting down to a full meal. The first course, "The Black Hair," is a fairly bland and predictable salad, spiced with some extraordinary filmmaking. (The sound of the second wife's kimono gliding over the wooden floors hauntingly condenses her character to a single, silky detail, for example.) It isn't bad, just mildly disappointing, leaving us hungry for more.
"The Woman in the Snow" would be a perfectly realized appetizer, except that with its powdered sugar snow, painted sunsets and theatrical lighting effects, it looks more like dessert. The sweet taste is a trick, however, a way of disarming us so that when the horror arrives, its raw simplicity is deeply frightening.
"Hoichi the Earless," the main course, is simply stunning, executed at a virtually indescribable level of formal control. There are no fewer than *five* layers of representation in the segment. The relatively Realistic framing story of Hoichi seamlessly slides into dreams and fantasy in which mists and shadows creep around characters posed as motionless, hieratic masses. A legendary battle between the Genji and Heike clans is staged in Kabuki-like bright colors, broad gestures and theatrical backdrops, intercut with a painting of the battle, while the soundtrack provides a *third* description through both a musical recounting and a narration of the story. "Hoichi" has the pictorial extravagance of RAN's battle scenes, but where Kurosawa paints his canvas with broad, epic strokes, Kobayashi abstracts the action into a few, highly compressed gestures. The segment is marred only by some low-comedy scenes which fortunately are brief enough not to get in the way.
The film concludes with "In a Cup of Tea," the most original as a story and, with its subdued colors, traditional editing and focus on the actors instead of the decor, the most Naturalistic as filmmaking. "Tea" combines a kind of Borgesian menace with an understated, knowing sense of humor. This is the real dessert, pleasant, surprising, occasinally funny but also, in its very last shot, an astringent reminder of what has come before. It is a suitably satisfying conclusion to a filling meal.
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The third chapter is the best.Read more