7.9/10
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The Ballad of Narayama (1958)

Narayama bushikô (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 19 June 1961 (USA)
A kabuki theatre-inflected story about a poor village whose people have to be carried to a nearby mountain to die once they get old.

Director:

Keisuke Kinoshita
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6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Kinuyo Tanaka ... Orin
Teiji Takahashi ... Tatsuhei
Yûko Mochizuki Yûko Mochizuki ... Tamayan
Danko Ichikawa Danko Ichikawa ... Kesakichi
Seiji Miyaguchi ... Mata-yan
Keiko Ogasawara Keiko Ogasawara ... Matsu-yan
Yûnosuke Itô Yûnosuke Itô ... Matayan's son
Eijirô Tôno ... Messenger
Ken Mitsuda Ken Mitsuda ... Teruyan
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Storyline

In Kabuki style, the film tells the story of a remote mountain village where the scarcity of food leads to a voluntary but socially-enforced policy in which relatives carry 70-year-old family members up Narayama mountain to die. Granny Orin is approaching 70, content to embrace her fate. Her widowed son Tatsuhei cannot bear losing his mother, even as she arranges his marriage to a widow his age. Her grandson Kesa, who's girlfriend is pregnant, is selfishly happy to see Orin die. Around them, a family of thieves are dealt with severely, and an old man, past 70, whose son has cast him out, scrounges for food. Will Orin's loving and accepting spirit teach and ennoble her family? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

19 June 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ballad of Narayama See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Shochiku See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Fujicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Official submission of Japan for the 'Best Foreign Language Film' category of the 31st Academy Awards in 1959. See more »

Connections

Remade as The Ballad of Narayama (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Excellent Presentation
29 March 2016 | by gavin6942See all my reviews

In Kabuki style, the film tells the story of a remote mountain village where the scarcity of food leads to a voluntary but socially-enforced policy in which relatives carry 70-year-old family members up Narayama mountain to die.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times rated the film a maximum 4 stars, and added it to his Great Movies list in 2013, making it the final film he added to the list before his death. In a June 1961 review in The New York Times, A.H. Weiler called the film "an odd and colorful evocation of Japan's past that is only occasionally striking"; "It is stylized and occasionally graphic fare in the manner of the Kabuki Theatre, which is realistically staged, but decidedly strange to Western tastes." I have to respectfully disagree with Weiler. Perhaps at the time the film was strange to Western taste. I couldn't speak to that. But I find it quite refreshing, and really enjoy how they made it obvious that the story was told on a stage. Rather than hide the stag as American films do, this one embraces it, so you know you are really watching a story and it need not be any more than that. And yet, it is not just theater but a bigger experience.


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