This film contains four distinct, separate stories. "Black Hair": A poor samurai who divorces his true love to marry for money, but finds the marriage disastrous and returns to his old wife... See full summary »
While their mother is dying in the modern Gimli, Manitoba hospital, two young children are told a tale by their Icelandic grandmother about Einar the Lonely, his friend Gunnar, and the ... See full summary »
A bag full of symbolic folklore about werewolves, or, rather, their sexual connotation. Granny tells her granddaughter Rosaleen strange, disturbing tales about innocent maidens falling in ... See full summary »
Inspired by fairy-tales such as Alice in Wonderland and Little Red-Riding Hood, "Valerie and her Week of Wonders" is a surreal tale in which love, fear, sex and religion merge into one fantastic world.
An old Gothic cathedral, built over a mass grave, develops strange powers which trap a number of people inside with ghosts from a 12th Century massacre seeking to resurrect an ancient demon from the bowels of the Earth.
Feodor Chaliapin Jr.
A village in Nineteenth Century Europe is at first relieved when a circus breaks through the quarantine to take the local's minds off the plague. But their troubles are only beginning as ... See full summary »
This film contains four distinct, separate stories. "Black Hair": A poor samurai who divorces his true love to marry for money, but finds the marriage disastrous and returns to his old wife, only to discover something eerie about her. "The Woman in the Snow": Stranded in a snowstorm, a woodcutter meets an icy spirit in the form of a woman spares his life on the condition that he never tell anyone about her. A decade later he forgets his promise. "Hoichi the Earless": Hoichi is a blind musician, living in a monastery who sings so well that a ghostly imperial court commands him to perform the epic ballad of their death battle for them. But the ghosts are draining away his life, and the monks set out to protect him by writing a holy mantra over his body to make him invisible to the ghosts. But they've forgotten something. "In a Cup of Tea": a writer tells the story of a man who keep seeing a mysterious face reflected in his cup of tea. Written by
Although most of the vignettes acknowledge a passage of time, in some cases several years, the months of principle action in the film are, in order, September, December, March, and February (or New Year's Day of the Fourth Tenwa). See more »
Kwaidan is a somewhat difficult work. Its four stories, with the exception of one, are not very involving and they can even become a little boring in their narrative. They are not very frightening, although they all attain a level of creepiness. Except for "Hoichi, the Earless," one of the most stunning tales I've ever experienced in a film, you can see the ending coming from a long ways away (the final episode, "In a Cup of Tea," is a little different, in that it has no ending, per se; the ending the filmmakers do come up with is a little disappointing).
The reason that this film is a masterpiece is its masterful composition. I think I have heard that Kobayashi was a painter. Even if I just made that up, it would fit. The colors are godly. Any frame of the film is a masterful painting. If you are interested in composition and cinematography in film, this is the one to see. If you only care about narrative, read books. Don't watch films. But at least see "Hoichi the Earless" for its composition and story. I suggest buying the Criterion released DVD. It is one of the cheaper DVDs of that company. And you don't have to watch the four stories in succession. If you watch them apart, and they could very easily be watched apart, the boredom factor will fade from existence.
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