Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!
A collection of four Japanese folk tales with supernatural themes.
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.…
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."
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.
Kwaidan aesthetically strays about as far from realism as one can go, yet is all the better for it. In dealing with the unknown of the spirit world, Kobayashi cinematically just goes for it here, demonstrating his Japanese ghost story chops with some wonderful artistry (including expressionist backdrops) and unforgettably haunting supernatural imagery (the woman of the snow, wow!). There were certain shots in this film that even made me wonder what a Kobayashi Alien film would have looked like, its partial influence over some subsequent horror classics can most certainly be felt. Kobayashi's cinematic approach to these stories is what is most interesting, and his involvement in traditional tropes such as scary Japanese women with long black hair is…
Like any good ghost story, Kwaidan's strength lies not in the contents of its tales, but in their telling. Even the lamest ghost story can be made horrifying when told around a dim campfire under the light of the full moon on a chill fall night. Director Masaki Kobayashi clearly recognized this fact when making Kwaidan, eschewing the idea of realism in favor of a surreal, storybook aesthetic which favors the film well. Throughout the film's four stories, the haunted protagonists find themselves lost in misty forests or fleeing from the unblinking, spirit-clad sky. Kobayashi displays a great eye for staging and sets up some really impressive scenes throughout the narratives. Like any anthology, the…
you know a film is gonna be spooky good when the opening credits can freak you out. watching Kwaidan is like hearing campfire ghost stories while staring at beautiful, ancient Japanese art. Clearly a pretty big influence on every J-Horror film ever made and a real scary, classy classic.
More haunting than scary. The set design, the lighting, the makeup, the score, all create this strange artificial atmosphere that's kind of disorienting. The camera work is also great, but it's the elements that happen away from the camera that really make these ghost stories memorable.
Everybody knows that ghosts are lovely, friendly even, and all they want is a restful place to spend eternity. What Kwaidan presupposes is... maybe they're not? Masaki Kobayashi's anthology of ghost tales is super fucking creepy, super fucking gorgeous, and pretty fucking stunning. Basically Kobayashi is saying that in Japan, ghosts are real and they will rip your ears off. He does this with breathtaking imagery, beautiful pacing, and a quite mind-boggling use of sound, that result in a unique, meticulous film about death, souls, the past, love, and seriously scary ghouls.
I don't think I can begin to explain just how BEAUTIFUL this film is. The cinematography, colours, special effects, music, acting, editing and storytelling are perfect, I really can't think of a single flaw in this film. There are very few anthology films out there that are actually great, let alone flawless. Masaki Kobayashi has managed to connect a series of Japanese folk tales together without making one story seem out of place or boring and long winded. Horror (and ghost) films like Kwaidan come along once in a lifetime, and while that is sad, thank god it exists.
All the shorts were very well shot and all the shorts had great sets and costumes. Sometimes the sets were a bit of an annoyance because it was very obviously shot inside.
The thing I really had a lot of trouble with was that the first two shorts were really boring and predictable. Seriously slow and the setup was enough for me to know how itd'd end. It was a drag to watch even tho it was all well executed.
The fourth short was alright, also well shot and had a good story, for me the second best short in the anthology.
The third short however, that's the one that's on the cover, was very much worth the wait. Phe-no-me-nal.…
Pretty film, awesome Welles-like camera angles.
The third story fell kinda flat, didn't know what was going on half the time, but it was still interesting to watch.
All in all, it's a very artistic, atmospheric ghost story compilation. Worth a watch.
Great slightly spooky stuff!
I love traditional spook stories and this one includes one of my all time favourites, Yuki-onna. I admit that I was actually pretty spooked by the first story as Im very easily scared, but after that the stuff was more lighthearted and ocasionally even quite amusing.
It feels alot like watching a play of some sorts. Has a very unique "old" atmosphere.
Pre-Lynch sparse dread can't really carry the whole thing as far as it wants to go (and when nothing is really happening and not even a sound is being made, it's hard to maintain your interest). Visually quite splendorous, though. Wondering what the difference is between cuts because this one definitely felt too long at times.
Kobayashi's Kwaidan rewards its patient viewers with four immensely spooky stories from Japanese folklore. A horror anthology done well.
This is kinda like theater on film but with the additions of great direction and cinematography. Beautiful sets with really, really evident matte paintings they don't care to hide. The acting of the protagonist's first wife on the first segment is the absurdly subtle, she expresses everything with her eyes
The entire Criterion collection organized by spine number.
I don't know why I did this.
Number I've Seen: 189/764 (25%)