This is what happens when your car breaks down on a Sunday morning and you have nothing else to do…
Bizarre, unearthly, terrifying— a nation's legend, an author's imagination, a director's creation manifest in the superlative— Kwaidan
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."
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.…
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.
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.
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…
The horror in this movie is slow and deliberate, created by a change in lighting, an object appearing or disappearing, or a Dutch-angle camera tilt. The movie's sometimes deliberate to a fault, as it tends to drag in some sections, but it's a nice alternative to jump scares and screechy musical cues, and the cinematography is breathtaking.
Αριστουργηματικός Κομπαγιάσι. Η πιο υποβλητική και καλλιτεχνική ιστορία φαντασμάτων.
This anthology film of four Japanese ghost stories is gorgeous and spooky, but it is very slow-paced and spare, and I made the mistake of watching it when I was sleepy. And the movie's best story was spoiled for me because it was ripped off in Tales from the Darkside: The Movie.
Вообще если бы знал, что это четыре не связанные между собой новеллы, то наверное посмотрел бы уже давно. А так всегда отпугивала более чем 3х часовая длина. Страхов здесь примерно столько же, как в любимой мной "Истории Двух Сестёр", а вот красоты и цвета здесь побольше. Обычные страшные фольклорные сказки азиатские.
If Tokyo Story is the definitive post-war Japanese drama and Seven Samurai the definitive jedaigeki samurai epic, then Kwaidan rounds out the three as the definitive Japanese folklore film.
I enjoyed all four of the pieces, though the first two were the best in my opinion. The imagery is incredible in both of them, in a way that's deeply unsettling. The third is also quite good, but way too long. The final story - In a Cup of Tea - is the perfect wrap up for the film: short, weird, and leaves you wanting more
Ghost story vignettes, amazingly shot. The colors are one of the most haunting things about this movie.
The Black Hair: 3 / 5
The Woman of the Snow: 3.5 / 5
Hoichi the Earless: 2.5 / 5
In a Cup of Tea: 3 / 5
I'm almost discounting the HOICHI THE EARLESS, which seems to run half of KWAIDAN's runtime and, while providing some striking imagery and a strong parable of its own, is just way too long. But the first two segments are incredible: set design, atmosphere, music, and an overall unsettling otherworldliness. I also liked the final segment, though it feels more like a pointed epilogue after the lengthy chore of Hoichi.
Hypnotic and beautiful. Camp fire tales so stunningly realized and elevated almost to the level of fairy tale. I really loved how each story was about stories. In the first one a man makes a bad decision early in life then tries to claim the happy ending of the path not taken and pays the price. The second story is about a tale that must never be told and you can guess how that goes. The third is about ghosts so obsessed with their own legend they make a blind boy tell it to them every night and the only thing that can save him is to literally paint a story on his body. And perversely it ends on a story that has no end almost as if to say
Movies that are slightly off.