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The Ballad of Narayama (1983)
"Narayama bushikô" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  29 April 1983 (Japan)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 4,336 users  
Reviews: 25 user | 45 critic

In a poor 19th century rural Japanese village, everyone who reaches the age of 70 has to climb a nearby mountain to die. An old woman is getting close to the cut-off age, and we follow her last days with her family.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ken Ogata ...
Tatsuhei
Sumiko Sakamoto ...
Orin
Tonpei Hidari ...
Risuke
Aki Takejô ...
Tamayan
Shôichi Ozawa ...
Katsuzô
Fujio Tokita ...
Jinsaku
Sanshô Shinsui ...
Zeniya no Tadayan
Seiji Kurasaki ...
Kesakichi
Junko Takada ...
Matsuyan
Mitsuko Baishô ...
Oei
Taiji Tonoyama ...
Teruyan
Kêshî Takamine ...
Arayashiki (as Kêshi Takamine)
Nenji Kobayashi ...
Tsune
Nijiko Kiyokawa ...
Okane
Akio Yokoyama ...
Amaya
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Storyline

In a small village in a valley everyone who reaches the age of 70 must leave the village and go to a certain mountain top to die. If anyone should refuse he or she would disgrace their family. Old Orin is 69. This winter it is her turn to go to the mountain. But first she must make sure that her eldest son Tatsuhei finds a wife. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In a time not long past, the first law was . . . The Old Must Die . . . [Video Australia] See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 April 1983 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Balladen om Narayama  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Katsuzô: [It's night and he creeps up to the village dog and starts to stroke her] -"Good girl, good girl, good girl."
[He takes her takes her collar and turns her around]
Katsuzô: -"Come over here."
[He kneels down behind her and starts thrusting and having sex with her, she wines and tries to move forwards]
Katsuzô: -"Shiro, don't move! Don't move, Shiro!"
[he keeps thrusting and begins to reach orgasm]
Katsuzô: -"Stay still, Shiro! Ohhhr"
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Great Grateful Jizo See more »

Soundtracks

Risuke no uta
Written by Hitoshi Machida
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A shocking, depressing, and even humorous depiction of a villages efforts to survive.
27 January 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Ballad of Narayama" is ultimately a film about survival.

Set during the Meiji Period, the inhabitants of a tiny Japanese farming village are forced to embrace extreme tactics to ensure that they stay alive.

Male babies are instantly killed with hardly any remorse, while females are usually sold. Stealing food is punishable by death, which we see in a very disturbing scene where an entire family are buried alive due their father's crime.

And, ultimately, the elderly are sent to die at the base of a mountain called Narayama when they reach the age of 70.

Despite the depressing tone, there is a lot of humor in this film, as well. The songs that the villagers sing about each other are pretty funny, and it's difficult not to laugh at Old Orin trying to knock her own teeth out with a rock.

Speaking of Old Orin, the actress who player her (Sumiko Sakamoto) gives a wonderful performance in this film. She had her teeth surgically removed for this role, and gives a realistic depiction of a 70-year-old woman even though she was in her 40s when the film was made.

"Ballad of Narayama" is indeed a depressing film in many aspects, but it's also filled with humor and offers a better understanding of what life must be like in these types of situations.


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