Kwaidan (Criterion Collection) (2-DVD)

Bizarre, unearthly, terrifying - a nation's legend, an author's imagination, a director's creation manifest in the superlative - Kwaidan
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Format:  DVD  (2 Discs)
item number:  697JW
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DVD Features:

  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Run Time: 3 hours, 3 minutes
  • Video: Color
  • Released: October 20, 2015
  • Originally Released: 1964
  • Label: Criterion Collection
  • Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
  • Note: New audio commentary by film historian Stephen Prince
    • Interview with Kobayashi from 1993, conducted by filmmaker Masahiro Shinoda
    • New interview with assistant director Kiyoshi Ogasawara
    • New piece about author Lafcadio Hearn, on whose versions of Japanese folktales Kwaidan is based
    • Trailers
  • Aspect Ratio: Widescreen - 2.35
  • Audio:
    • Japanese
    • Subtitles - English

Performers, Cast and Crew:

Starring , , &
Performer: &
Directed by
Composition by
Cinematography by

Major Awards:

Cannes 1965 - Jury Prize

Entertainment Reviews:


Total Count: 24


User Ratings: 5,663
The fairy tale "Woman of Snow" is better than the other three horror segments. Full Review
Classic Film and Television
Nov 21, 2017
Rating: 5/5 -- A classic.
Mar 17, 2009
Kwaidan is one of the most beautiful and haunting pieces of art I have ever seen. Full Review
The Movie Sleuth
Nov 6, 2018
Kwaidan is a psychological horror film for those who are seeking an utterly immersive experience. Full Review
Senses of Cinema
Oct 17, 2016
Extraordinary as Kwaidan's spectacles are, I'm even more impressed by its soundscape, the work of the great composer Toru Takemitsu. Full Review
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Alberta)
Nov 18, 2015
Couple these sound effects and voices with some remarkable pictorial images and the consequence is a horror picture with an extraordinarily delicate and sensuous quality. Full Review
New York Times
May 9, 2005
What makes KWAIDAN singular is the combination of Kobayashi’s almost maddeningly patient, methodical approach to drama and his expressionistic experiments with color, sound, and theatrical artifice.
A.V. Club
Oct 21, 2015

Product Description:

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.

Plot Synopsis:

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.


Production Notes:

  • 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.

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Product Info

  • Sales Rank: 30,051
  • UPC: 715515159012
  • Shipping Weight: 0.27/lbs (approx)
  • International Shipping: 2 items

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