After more than a decade of sober political dramas and socially minded period pieces, the great Japanese director Masaki Kobayashi shifted gears dramatically for this rapturously stylized quartet of ghost stories. Featuring colorfully surreal sets and luminous cinematography, these haunting tales of demonic comeuppance and spiritual trials, adapted from writer Lafcadio Hearn’s collections of Japanese folklore, are existentially frightening and meticulously crafted.
A man returns to his abandoned wife seeking forgiveness and pays for his cruelty. A snow demon and a young man make a pact. A blind priest is summoned by the ghosts of dead warriors to recite the heroic battle that cost them their lives. A samurai is taunted by ghosts in his cup of tea…
Kobayashi’s output has been small compared to his contemporaries’ (Kurosawa, Ozu…) yet each of his films is an assault on the senses and a visual gem. After unleashing some of Japan’s cinematic legends in two of the greatest samurai films ever made (Samurai Rebellion with Toshiro Mifune and the sublime Harakiri with Tatsuya Nakadai), the master moved on to the supernatural with this collection of ghost stories. Filming for the first time in color, Kobayashi wields it like few others before or since, blending spellbinding compositions together and giving us a film of a visual beauty that rivals the best of Kurosawa, Kubrick or Tarkovsky. The eerie feeling of dread is matched only by the film’s sheer beauty and power, like watching a moving painting or experiencing a trance.
Kwaidan is not entertaining: it is captivating, bewitching, unique even by it’s author’s standards. For movie-goers, this is a unique experience. For amateurs of art, it is a feast.
DVDRip | MKV | 716 x 342 | x264 @ 1094 Kbps | 183 min | 1,69 Gb
Audio: Japanese AAC 2.0 @ 160 Kbps | Subs: English (embedded)
Genre: Art-house, Fantasy, Horror