04Jan22: “The Ballad of Narayama”…

Andy stopped by to watch the film.

For a moment, he was interested.

“What? What? What?”

This one is just too Japanese for my kitty boy.

But not Doug. The spare koto solo, the Kabuki-influenced presentation, the beautiful cinematography (a very Japanese aesthetic…), the compelling despair of the story – Andy’s missing a chance to see a classic Japanese film of some import.

They all can’t be about Godzilla, buster!

It was frightening enough to learn a new Japanese term: obasute. Maybe it’s just because I’m older than 70!Β 

Ubasute – Wikipedia

The Ballad of Narayama (1958 film) – Wikipedia

11 thoughts on “04Jan22: “The Ballad of Narayama”…

    • In the movie, the elderly woman was the family member who did all the work, made the meals. I suppose the point of that was to show she wasn’t worthless because she was past the age where elderly people were put out on this mountain to die.

  1. A true Japanese classic film, though I’ve read that the practice wasn’t that common in traditional Japan. (Sadly, I’ve heard that suicide among the elderly in contemporary Japan is high due to lack of family support, loneliness, and poverty—Japan’s version of Social Security apparently is as bad as ours.) I think I liked The Ballad of Narayama a lot more when I was younger. Now that I’m a senior, I wonder what are the odds my kids will leave me in the mountains to freeze to death or be eaten by wolves. πŸ˜€

    • It definitely will be viewed differently at different stages of one’s life! At age 73, someone would be carrying me to the mountain. Yes, it seems it wasn’t a common practice in Japan. I didn’t catch the significance of the 33 dragon teeth…. It felt like something was left out of the film that would resonate with Japanese audiences in the reference to the 33 dragon teeth. It was an enjoyable film just the same for the quasi-Kabuki style and the beautiful cinematography.

      • The old woman, the main character of the movie, still has all 33 of her teeth, which would be unusual at that period of Japanese history. As a result, her horrid grandson mocks her and accuses her of being a demon. It’s like the village is punishing her for being hale and hearty in old age, something I didn’t notice when I was younger but now pick up as an oldster. (Having seen so much age discrimination even in my 50s, it infuriates me to think about that scene from the film.) It is a beautifully captured movie and I’m glad it’s available online, but as a “genki o-basan” myself (lively or active old woman) I chafe at the way older people in our contemporary society are dismissed. I’d happily punch out anyone who tried to carry me into the mountains!

          • A Blu-Ray version of the film is available from several places, but the cost is astronomical! Amazon prime has both the 1958 and 1982 versions for US$0 to US$3.99 to view. TCM offers it, too, for a short time in January.

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