MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 4,077 this week

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

 -  Drama  -  29 April 1983 (Japan)
7.9
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.9/10 from 4,288 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.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (novel)
0Check in
0Share...

Editors' Spotlight

Sundance 2015

Watch our IMDb & AIV Sundance Studio Interviews with Keith Simanton

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 33 titles
created 12 Feb 2012
 
a list of 30 titles
created 02 Dec 2012
 
a list of 31 titles
created 07 Apr 2013
 
list image
a list of 36 titles
created 03 Jan 2014
 
a list of 32 titles
created 18 Jan 2014
 

Related Items

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: The Ballad of Narayama (1983)

The Ballad of Narayama (1983) on IMDb 7.9/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Ballad of Narayama.
9 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Chronological exploits of Iwao Enokizu, a murderous thief on the lam.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Ken Ogata, Rentarô Mikuni, Chôchô Miyako
Why Not? (1981)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Shigeru Izumiya, Kaori Momoi, Masao Kusakari
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A down-and-out businessman travels to a seaside town, where he meets a woman with unusual sexual powers.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Kôji Yakusho, Misa Shimizu, Mitsuko Baishô
Drama | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A young hoodlum decides to work for a criminal organization who is tearing itself apart.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Hiroyuki Nagato, Jitsuko Yoshimura, Masao Mishima
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Amorality in Japan. Tome is born into poverty in rural Japan, in the late 1910s. Chuji, her father, dotes on her; her mother is less faithful. Tome becomes a neighbor's mistress, works at ... See full summary »

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Emiko Aizawa, Setsuko Amamiya, Tomio Aoki
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Sadako was raised as a maid in the household of her husband, who continues to treat her as a serf. While the husband is away... See full synopsis »

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Masumi Harukawa, Kô Nishimura, Shigeru Tsuyuguchi
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Life of a pornographer who tries to stay under the radar of the mob. He has a mistress, a step-son, a step-daughter (whom he's attracted to) and a wife who believes her first husband was reincarnated as a restless carp.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Shôichi Ozawa, Sumiko Sakamoto, Ganjirô Nakamura
Documentary | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Yoshie Hayakawa, Shôhei Imamura, Shigeru Tsuyuguchi
Zegen (1987)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Ken Ogata, Mitsuko Baishô, Chun Hsiung Ko
Certificate: GP Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

An engineer from Tokyo arrives on a drought-ridden tropical island to drill a well to power a nearby sugar mill. He meets the inbred Futori family, hated by the locals for breaking religious customs.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Rentarô Mikuni, Chôichirô Kawarasaki, Kazuo Kitamura
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

While his wife and children are away on holiday, a henpecked, daydreaming pharmacist begins a flirtatious relationship with the pretty girl in the boutique opposite. Almost a Japanese screwball comedy.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Frank Nagai, Shin'ichi Yanagisawa, Hisano Yamaoka
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

On August 15, ten years after the Pacific War, five people meet at a station. Their purpose is to dig out a cache of morphine -- now worth sixty million yen -- that HASHIMOTO, an army ... See full summary »

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Reiji Akitsu, Shinsuke Ashida, Takeshi Katô
Edit

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
Casey Takamine ...
Arayashiki (as Kêshi Takamine)
Nenji Kobayashi ...
Tsune
Nijiko Kiyokawa ...
Okane
Akio Yokoyama ...
Amaya
Edit

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:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 April 1983 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Balladen om Narayama  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

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

Remake of Ballad of Narayama (1958) See more »

Soundtracks

Oya wo nemurasu komori uta
Performed by Sumiko Sakamoto
Courtesy of Radio City Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A Truly Unforgettable Film
12 August 2002 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

Death and what it means is the theme of the haunting and sensuous Ballad of Narayama, a Cannes Film Festival Grand prize winner from 1982 by Shohei Imamaura (Black Rain, The Eel, Dr. Akagi). Based on a novel by Shichiro Fukazawa, this spellbinding film takes place in a rural mountainous area in northern Japan about one hundred years ago. Because the villager's rice crop is meager and starvation is a chronic threat, according to village custom, the elderly must go to die on the summit of Mount Narayama when they reach the age of 70. Group survival depends on it and death is accepted as a fact of life in the village.

I must admit I had a hard time during the first hour being engaged with this film and sorting out all the characters. I found the graphic depiction of the cruel realities of village life to be ugly and often vulgar. For example, one character has sex with a village dog, an entire family is buried alive because they have been accused of stealing, and two snakes copulate next to a couple's sexual encounter in the woods. As the film progressed, however, I found it easier to accept how the brutal struggle for survival ensures continuance and self-preservation.

The story concerns Orin (Sumiko Sakamota) who, in her seventieth year, must complete all the loose ends in her life before she goes to die. One widowed son must find a new wife, another has to sleep with a woman for the first time, and the third needs to be taught manners. When Orin realizes it is her time to be taken to Narayama, her son Tatsuhei (Ken Ogata) carries his mother to the mountain on his back in scenes of ethereal beauty reminiscent of Sokurov's Mother and Son. The resistance of Tatsuhei to his mother's death is familiar, yet nonetheless deeply moving. At the end of the journey, Orin clings to her resolve with tenacity and reconciliation to the inevitable. Sitting on the mountain close to her God, she is rewarded by the sudden grace of the silent snow.

Watching Ballad of Narayama I was forced to confront my own feelings about the morality of suicide. Both during and since viewing the film, I have been haunted by the idea of a loved one slowly freezing to death on a mountain--for my benefit. Although I do not approve of taking one's life as a general ethic, I found Imamura's conception to be so deeply human that it became both tragic and immensely moving. The film functions on a level well beyond pat moralizing, showing the extremes that people will go to out of love for each other, and the grace that can be bestowed on such acts of sacrifice. It is truly unforgettable.


59 of 64 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Ebert+Siskel punch-drunk_love
When Tatsuhei Said 'Bitch' PinkPolka1010
Sexual overload? homegnome1
I don't understand the hole dog scene. I-TheMan-I
Which Version? chuck-526
Discuss The Ballad of Narayama (1983) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?