Sight and Sound - 11/01/2007
"[Keisuke] adopts a strongly kabuki-influenced approach, shooting in colour, scope and on studio sets so stylised that their artificial backdrops and scene-changes are proudly flaunted..."
A.V. Club - 02/27/2013
"Kinoshita stages the entire movie as a hybrid of cinema and kabuki, complete with an onscreen narrator describing the action..."
A fusion of Japanese Kabuki and modern film techniques, this adaptation of Shichiro Fukazawa's 1956 novel depicts the moving tale of a 69-year-old woman's traditional journey from her poor village to the summit of Mount Narayama to die. 1983's THE BALLAD OF NARAYAMA is Shohei Imamura's acclaimed remake of the film.
Critics heralded this film, the first of two about the legend of Mount Narayama, as moving and rich in artistry. When humans complain about the world of the present, perhaps they should reflect on life in this Japanese village circa the 1880s. Here is a place where the laws are so Draconian that the police bury robbers alive for their crimes. Worse yet, the elderly are not looked up to for their potential wisdom; instead, they are forced to accept their savage "fate" atop a frigid mountain. In this land live a stiff-necked mother and her widower son. Together, they embark on her last journey...to the apogee of Mount Narayama.