An elder ronin samurai arrives at a feudal lord's home and requests an honorable place to commit suicide. But when the ronin inquires about a younger samurai who arrived before him things take an unexpected turn.
The mother of a feudal lord's only heir is kidnapped away from her husband by the lord. The husband and his samurai father must decide whether to accept the unjust decision, or risk death to get her back.
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
If you have the time, this is a very rewarding film.
Over a time span of some 35 years, I saw Kwaidan twice on the large screen. I liked it the very first time, and it got better when I saw it the second time.
From the very opening when credits were introduced, color ink drops penetrating clear water generated an extremely soothing visual effect. The execution was low-tech, but it goes to show the power of human creativity before the age of fast computer chips. This opening also sets the tone of what you are about to get into - a film of great visual beauty, a film that requires a relaxed and unrushed mental frame of mind to appreciate.
It consists of four stories, all about ghosts, spirits and a blood-sucking woman in white. Some stories are better than the others, and my favourite is 'Hoichi the Earless', which also has the longest running time. It is about escapism, tales of morals, and cinema at its best.
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