Film

Onibaba
FILM

Onibaba

鬼婆 (Onibaba)
Friday, November 12, 2010

Sold Out

1964, 103 min., 35 mm, B&W, in Japanese with English subtitles.
Directed by Kaneto Shindo. With Jitsuko Yoshimura, Kei Sato, Jukichi Uno, Taiji Tonoyama. Print Courtesy of The Japan Foundation with permission Janus Films.

Kaneto Shindo's tenebrous classic puts the spotlight on the savage appetites of two women. Nestled in a seemingly endless sea of swaying reeds during the war-ravaged days of 16th century Japan, a hard-bitten mother (Nobuko Otowa) and her young daughter-in-law (Jitsuko Yoshimura) lead the nefarious existence of marauders, murdering the stray soldiers and lost samurai who wander into the wilderness surrounding their hut, selling their war gear for rice, and dumping down their corpses down a deep, dark pit.

When their rough and rugged neighbor (Kei Sato) returns from war, conflicting ferocious passions threaten to shatter the women’s sinister partnership, and soon… the newly formed trio’s precarious cohabitation.

Intensely erotic and steeped in Buddhist symbolism, Kaneto Shindo’s Onibaba is both a macabre parable on modern-day consumerism, and a lyrical morality play on the dark power of primal desires.

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Part of Zen & Its Opposite: Essential (& Turbulent) Japanese Art House

Each film illustrates one or several of the “Six Planes of Existence“—a Buddhist concept commonly referred to as “Six Paths” (Rokudō 六道 or Rokudō-rinne 六道輪廻) in Japan—within “the realm of Birth and Death” (Samsara).

Onibaba
The Realm of the Animals:
a condition of servitude in which one is governed by instinct, and in which one has no sense of morality and lives only for the present. In this state, one will not shrink from preying on weaker beings for personal gain.

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