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.
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.
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
In order to achieve an appropriate separation between the four parts of the film, director Masaki Kobayashi shot the film on two separate sound stages. Because of the tight shooting schedule, he would oversee the set design of one vignette on one sound stage while he filmed another on the alternate location. See more »
A 163 minute version is now available on Region 1 DVD as a part of the Criterion Collection. The (Region 2) Masters of Cinema DVD is the first video release to contain the full 183 minutes of the original Japanese cut of the film. See more »
One of the most amazing Japanese movies I've ever seen!
'Kwaidan' is an astonishing film, once seen never forgotten. It's labeled horror, but while the four stories within deal with ghosts and the supernatural, I doubt that anyone would be actually frightened watching it. Haunted, yes, scared, no. It's a beautiful movie, very stylized with a very imaginative use of colour. I can't think of anything else I've seen that comes close. Mario Bava, maybe. The movie consists of four stories. I think it's best watched as a whole to let each story blend in to the other, but if forced to choose I would say my favourite segment is the second one ('The Woman In The Snow') which I believe was left out of the version of the movie originally shown outside Japan. 'Kwaidan' is one of those rare movies that leaves you stunned the first time you see it. For me it's equal to 'Rashomon', 'Woman In The Dunes' and 'Branded To Kill' as the most amazing Japanese movies I've ever seen. Each one of these movies blew my mind. It's difficult not to gush about all four. They come with my highest recommendation. I sincerely believe that anybody who watches them will be incredibly impressed. They are all masterpieces.
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