The greatest films of all time as voted on by the Criterion subreddit using a ranked top 10 methodology from…
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.
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 past is jealous.
I was certain I hadn't seen KWAIDAN before, but the movie felt vaguely familiar as it was unfolding: either I had previously seen it or the film conjured up a false memory with the power of its mythical archetypes. In any case, Masaki Kobayashi's four ghost stories aren't very scary, but they do get under your skin and are beautifully made.
Insanely, mind-numbingly boring. Unless you are super into Japanese folklore or painfully slow movies, skip this one.
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Day 22: Kwaidan - 1964
Kwaidan (or Kaidan) is an anthology film made up of four short stories.
The first story "Black Hair" is about a samurai who divorces his wife to marry into a rich family in a bid to escape poverty, only to discover that his new wife is selfish and dull. He then wishes to return to his old wife. The second story "The Woman of the Snow" tells the story of a woodcutter who is spared by a snow spirit because of his young age, but he cannot tell anyone of their encounter or she will kill him. This section is one of the stronger ones. The Third Story…
I certainly was not expecting a horror anthology when I turned this on. In 1964! Structurally, it would have been nice if there were was something tying them together, but perhaps I've been spoiled by modern attempts at anthology films.
The stories themselves are interesting, but not fully satisfying in a couple of cases. You can see were they're all headed, especially since they're all ghost stories. While this could be considered a mechanism for creating suspense, I'm not sure that it works as well as it could have. Without a doubt, the best segment of the four is The Woman in the Snow.
The thing that really sets Kwaidan apart is just how beautiful a film this is, and…
This movie is way too long. At least its cinematography and production/set design are amazingly beautiful and surreal. My favorite segment was "Yuki-onna" ("The Woman of the Snow"), and even that needed to be trimmed down.
Still worth watching though, and the [bloated] vignette nature of the piece means you can easily take a break in between any of the stories.
3rd viewing, although it's my 1st viewing of the full 180-minute cut. This movie will always have a special place with me -- about 15 years ago, I asked my dad what he thought was the scariest movie he ever saw was, and this was his answer. Actually, he only knew the Chinese name of it ("Guaitan"), and he told me the story of "Hoichi the Earless" and how "The Woman of the Snow" completely terrified him when he saw it on the theater screen. He wondered then if it was available on video. I then took to the internet and found out, to my utter delight, that the movie was available on DVD via the Criterion Collection, and it…
"Kwaidan" ist ein Anthologiefilm von Masaki Kobayashi, der aus vier, von einander unabhängigen Erzählungen besteht. Übersetzt bedeutet der Titel Geistergeschichten und genau das gibt uns der Regisseur: Geschichten über Geister. Wer modernen Horror erwartet, mit "jump-scares", Folterszenen oder Blutorgien, wird enttäuscht. Natürlich gibt es groteske Szenen gerade in der ersten und dritten Erzählung, doch der Regisseur setzt viel mehr auf eine Mischung aus schlichten Soundeffekten und atemberaubenden Bildkompositionen um dem Zuschauer die Atmosphäre zu vermitteln. Kwaidan gehört mit seinen traumhaften Farben und verschwenderischen Bühnenbildern zu den schönsten Filmen, die ich je gesehen habe.
Flawless and beautiful. Seventeenth century horror ages like fine wine.
Viewed in the 605 Screening Room.
One of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. Visually and aurally arresting. Each story in this anthology piece is more than just satisfying they offer a unique and intriguing mythology.
More Info to come
Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!