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You can skip movies 10 times but never go back.
This is the film adaptation of four stories from the book "Kwaidan: Stories and studies of strange things" by Lafcadio Hearn and is actually a collection of Japanese ghost stories, taken from various sources, some even stemming from China.
As a collection of spooky, transfixing stories fabricated through heightened artificiality and blooming colors, Kwaidan slams the viewer into a mesmerizing trance. It's a beautiful mix of apparitions, surreal visions, and stories birthed from the past, and while the stories vary in quality (1st two - stunning, 2nd two - merely good), by the film's startling, dissonant conclusion, it doesn't really matter. This is a masterful movie.
Takes the experiences of watching a play, reading a book of folk tales, viewing a painting, listening to avant garde music, and having a dream and turns them into a movie. A stylized theatrical back drop, a lighting change, a slightly off-kilter motion, a slightly off-sync cue in Toru Takemitsu's otherworldly soundtrack and suddenly you're transported into the dream. Timeless, but maybe 1960s Japan would have special attraction to moral lessons like: "next time stay at home" or "keep your promises, for the sake of the children, because the past will come back to haunt you" or "remember the past, tell its story well, but don't blindly adhere to it" or "don't be a security obsessed jerk who drinks a soul in my unfinished story or whatever the lesson was in that last one."
Deserves so much more time than I have
I love anthologies. Maybe it's my growing attention issues, but bite-sized nuggets of stories, especially ones linked by theme or style are a more-than-welcome alternative to the immersion I can feel with films that use long running times to tell a single, epic story. Kwaidan obviously fits the bill, and - despite the rating (discussed later) - was beautiful and just the right amount of scary. For the sake of the rating, here's how I liked each separate story:
The Black Hair - 7/10
Kobayashi gets things started with the most overtly-terrifying tale. It's a sad love story with a gruesome twist, and is interesting in and of itself as a tragic tale of regret.…
A.V. Club review. Still can't believe "The Woman of the Snow" got cut for the U.S. release, as it's far and away the best of the four, in terms of both visual splendor and overall creepiness.
This is a sumptuous visual feast that through delirious colours, sets and imagery offers up four Japanese tales of the supernatural that all cast a spell and get under your skin over the nearly 3 hour running time. A must-see for fans of Horror and Japanese cinema from the Director of Harakiri and The Human Condition.
Deserves so much more time than I have
Four separate ghost stories with a style that is beautiful and sometimes surreal. The only reason this didn't get five stars is that some of the stories progressed a little slow.
Great in its visuals, but lacking in suspense. In my opinion it was just too long.
Anyways a very ambitious movie for its time.
This horror anthology made by Toho Studios in the 1960's is one of those horror movies that's more beautiful and eerie than it is scary. Based on four Japanese folk tales, the film has an air of artifice about it, using colourful lighting (which changes mid-scene for supernatural effect), fancy period costumes and makeup, and massive set-pieces (wheat fields and show covered forests are reproduced on the stage, an elaborate sea battle is shown against a painted backdrop). It was one of the most expensive movies made in Japan at the time, and it shows. With so much style, it could be said that the film is an exercise in excess, but really, the style lends itself perfectly to each…
Worth watching for the start of the third part (Hoichi the Earless) alone.
I really need to stop falling asleep for a few minutes during these epic films 😭😭😭😭😭
amazing sound - beautifully painted sets.
could have perhaps used a little more editing to tidy it up in parts.
i'm considering having my entire body tatooed with tiny Kanji now.
It has a serious pace problem in my opinion (and I watched and loved maaany asian films, believe me; and Kobayashi's Seppuku is one of my all time favorites) and stories aren't that great after all, not enough to support these three hours of "art cinema" I think.
Movies that are slightly off.