8.0/10
12,167
77 user 85 critic

Kwaidan (1964)

Kaidan (original title)
A collection of four Japanese folk tales with supernatural themes.

Director:

Masaki Kobayashi

Writers:

Yôko Mizuki (screenplay), Lafcadio Hearn (novel) (as Yakumo Koizumi)
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Onibaba (1964)
Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Two women kill samurai and sell their belongings for a living. While one of them is having an affair with their neighbor, the other woman meets a mysterious samurai wearing a bizarre mask.

Director: Kaneto Shindô
Stars: Nobuko Otowa, Jitsuko Yoshimura, Kei Satô
Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Two women are raped and killed by samurai soldiers. Soon they reappear as vengeful ghosts who seduce and brutally murder the passing samurai.

Director: Kaneto Shindô
Stars: Kichiemon Nakamura, Nobuko Otowa, Kei Satô
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

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.

Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Yôko Tsukasa, Gô Katô
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  

His ideals challenged by life as a conscript in war-time Japan's military, a pacifist faces ever greater tests in his fight for survival.

Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Michiyo Aratama, Tamao Nakamura
Harakiri (1962)
Action | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

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.

Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Ishihama, Shima Iwashita
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

A Japanese pacifist, unable to face the dire consequences of conscientious objection, is transformed by his attempts to compromise with the demands of war-time Japan.

Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Michiyo Aratama, Chikage Awashima
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

As a conscript in war-time Japan's military, a pacifist struggles to maintain his determination to keep his ideals.

Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Michiyo Aratama, Kokinji Katsura
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

An entomologist on vacation is trapped by local villagers into living with a woman whose life task is shoveling sand for them.

Director: Hiroshi Teshigahara
Stars: Eiji Okada, Kyôko Kishida, Hiroko Itô
Action | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Through his unconscionable actions against others, a sociopath samurai builds a trail of vendettas that follow him closely.

Director: Kihachi Okamoto
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Michiyo Aratama, Yûzô Kayama
Ugetsu (1953)
Drama | Fantasy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A tale of ambition, family, love, and war set in the midst of the Japanese Civil Wars of the sixteenth century.

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Stars: Masayuki Mori, Machiko Kyô, Kinuyo Tanaka
Tanin no kao (1966)
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A businessman with a disfigured face obtains a lifelike mask from his doctor, but the mask starts altering his personality.

Director: Hiroshi Teshigahara
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Mikijirô Hira, Kyôko Kishida
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The story takes place in feudal Japan, when any commerce with the rest of the world was strictly prohibited. An idealist suddenly appears in an isolated inn (the one that the title refers ... See full summary »

Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Komaki Kurihara, Wakako Sakai
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michiyo Aratama ... First wife (segment "Kurokami")
Misako Watanabe Misako Watanabe ... Second Wife (segment "Kurokami")
Rentarô Mikuni Rentarô Mikuni ... Husband (segment "Kurokami")
Kenjirô Ishiyama Kenjirô Ishiyama ... Father (segment "Kurokami")
Ranko Akagi Ranko Akagi ... Mother (segment "Kurokami")
Fumie Kitahara Fumie Kitahara ... (segment "Kurokami")
Kappei Matsumoto Kappei Matsumoto ... (segment "Kurokami")
Yoshiko Ieda Yoshiko Ieda ... (segment "Kurokami")
Otome Tsukimiya Otome Tsukimiya ... (segment "Kurokami")
Kenzô Tanaka Kenzô Tanaka ... (segment "Kurokami")
Kiyoshi Nakano Kiyoshi Nakano ... (segment "Kurokami")
Tatsuya Nakadai ... Mi nokichi (segment "Yuki-Onna")
Keiko Kishi Keiko Kishi ... Yuki the Snow Maiden (segment "Yuki-Onna")
Yûko Mochizuki Yûko Mochizuki ... Minokichi's mother (segment "Yuki-Onna")
Kin Sugai Kin Sugai ... Village woman (segment "Yuki-Onna")
Edit

Storyline

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 Kathy Li

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In the tradition of "RASHOMON" and "GATE OF HELL" See more »

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Horror

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

22 November 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ghost Stories See more »

Filming Locations:

Japan

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

JPY 350,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (heavily cut) | (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The four vignettes were chosen to represent the four seasons of the year. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Xie (1980) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Style IS substance. Another masterpiece by Masaki Kobayashi.
4 July 2008 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

Kwaidan is a four-segment horror anthology but you'd be hard pressed to find one more removed from the typical plastic bats and cobwebs Gothic anthologies of Amicus or Hammer. While it can be billed as a "horror" movie and it deals with the supernatural, it's not really frightening. All four segments are more like traditional Japanese folk legends about ghosts, the kind of spooky stories you could hear an elder narrating to kids around a bonfire in a village near Kyoto or the outskirts of Okinawa. However if "work of art" was a genre, Kwaidan would be among the best it had to offer.

Just two years after the seminal Seppuku which was done in stark black and white with a geometric, well disciplined style, Kobayashi returns with another tour-de-force, this time in extravagant, expressionistic colour. A visual feast proving that in the right hands style can be substance. His camera with its slow tracking shots is like a brush, painting a celluloid canvas with vivid, lush compositions and it comes as no surprise to find out that he had a background in painting. The combination of eerie, supernatural material, the dreamlike atmosphere and the use of colour in lighting and sets reminded me of the great Italian maestro, Mario Bava; although Kwaidan by no means fits in the Gothic horror mold.

Conscious of the folk legend material he's working on, Kobaysi wisely shot the movie in studio sets using large painted backgrounds that look deliberately artificial as much as they look gorgeous. In many ways, it feels like a big stageplay or an elaborate dramatic poem. In that aspect, Kwaidan takes place somewhere between the real and the mythic. A land of some other order.

The stories all revolve around ghosts and are as simple and predictable as any spooky story that you might hear as an adult. But they do a great job of providing an eerie skeleton for Kobayashi to hang on his beautiful style. Style over substance one could argue. Isn't that an erroneous statement though? By making the distinction one implies that style is somehow insubstantial to a film, something that couldn't be further from the truth. The use of colour is incredible, the lighting, at times subtle and evocative or wild and expressionistic, the slow tracking shots, long stretches of silence, a body painted with holy text, Tatsuya Nakadai looking calm and happy for a change, Tetsuro Tamba in full plate samurai armor, white ghastly faces, bodies falling in blood-red waters, a painted sunset backdrop, an intelligent play on vague endings, the minimal score, chords echoing from somewhere. Kwaidan proves that style IS substance. A visual feast by all means.

It's really a shame that Kobayashi is not as widely celebrated as Akira Kurosawa. Kwaidan is just another in a series of absolutely brilliant films he did in the 60's. Beautiful, creepy, poetic, atmospheric as hell; it is the work of a master cinematician and one of the best Japanese movies you're likely to see.


23 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 77 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed