Sight and Sound - 07/01/2006
"The soundtrack is especially strong, mixing natural sounds, human noises and Takemitsu Toru's subtle, haunting score."
Description by OLDIES.com:
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.
Director Masaki Kobayashi invested five years of preparation before shooting this anthological adaptation of four tales of the supernatural by Lafcadio Hearn. The first, "Black Hair," stars Rentaro Mikuni as a poverty-stricken samurai who leaves his kind wife (Michiyo Aratama) to marry the daughter (Misako Watanabe) of a wealthy official. After years of misery with this woman he returns to his first wife to find a bitter surprise. In the second, "The Woman of the Snow," a woodcutter (Tatsuya Nakadai) and his brother take shelter from a snowstorm in a deserted hut. However, trouble arises when a strange woman (Keiko Kishi) appears. The third, "Hoichi the Earless," features a blind temple musician (Katsuo Nakamura), who is known for his mastery of the ballad of the Heike clan. A samurai ghost bids him sing the ballad at the Heike tomb, and Buddhist priests protect him by painting his body with a depiction of the sacred text. In the last tale, "In a Cup of Tea," a samurai (Ganemon Nakamura) famed for courage, has a recurring vision of the face of another samurai in his tea. Shot entirely on a soundstage to allow the director complete control of the film's palette, it's a stunning display of sensuous color, perfectly suited to these otherworldly tales of the macabre. Takemitsu's "musique concrete" score is eerily appropriate.
In KWAIDAN, director Masaki Kobayashi presents a collection of four supernatural tales. Phantoms, grinningly mad, populate the film's netherworld and bolt its doors once their victims enter.
Short Stories |
Theatrical release: July 15, 1965.
In his desire for complete control of the visual effects in the film, director Masaki Kobayashi rented an unused airplane hangar, building and painting all the set by himself.
Kobayashi, who often makes films to accompany their musical scores, the reverse of standard procedure, worked for six months with Takemitsu in dubbing the film. Each segment features a different musical effect.
Translated literally, kwaidan means "ghost story."
Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival.
KWAIDAN was voted one of the 10 best films of 1965 by the New York Times.