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Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees (1975)

Sakura no mori no mankai no shita (original title)
A mountain man captures a beautiful, but a manipulative city woman and goes to excessive lengths to please her every whim.

Director:

Masahiro Shinoda
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tomisaburô Wakayama ... Mountain man
Shima Iwashita
Hiroko Isayama Hiroko Isayama
Kô Nishimura Kô Nishimura
Hideo Kanze Hideo Kanze
Yoshi Katô Yoshi Katô
Toshimi Oka Toshimi Oka
Nikaku Shofukutei Nikaku Shofukutei
Yûsuke Takita Yûsuke Takita
Jun Hamamura Jun Hamamura
Toshiaki Nishizawa Toshiaki Nishizawa
Dai Kanai Dai Kanai
Teruo Matsuyama Teruo Matsuyama
Kakuya Saeki Kakuya Saeki
Toshio Tokita Toshio Tokita
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Storyline

"When cherry trees blossom, people have parties. They sit under the trees with food and beverages. 'Oh, how beautiful.' That's all nonsense...before that the trees were feared." In Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees, we are treated to one of Masahiro Shinoda's most terrifyingly beautiful works. Based on a shorty story by Ango Sakaguchi, the film tells the tale of a poor Mountain Man who kills his seven wives (six to be precise; he leaves one alive to be a servant) to please an alluring woman he has captured. As the film progresses, the Mountain Man goes to unimaginable lengths to please his New Wife, who is never satisfied. Directed by Masahiro Shinoda, based onthe novel by Ango Sakaguchi.

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Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

31 May 1975 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.55 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Connections

Featured in Music for the Movies: Tôru Takemitsu (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

 
An uncelebrated Japanese horror masterpiece.
20 October 2018 | by JoshuaDysartSee all my reviews

"Take me back to the capitol city and bring me everything I desire...use your strength to please me."

Nobuhiko Obayashi 1977 "House" is the requisite Japanese horror film we talk about when we talk about the 70's. It rightfully deserves its place among the greatest, most influential, and certainly most memorable of the decade.

But now let's talk about, "Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees". I hadn't even heard of this movie until this weekend, but "Blossoming Cherry Trees", currently streaming on Filmstruck, is a visually stunning, quietly insane, masterpiece.

Careful to insert "quiet" in there, because it's not insane like "House". It's not over-the-top style dripping in excessive wave after wave of special effects. "Cherry Trees" is just a beautiful shot, bizarrely paced, horribly tempered, kind of insanity.

The director, Masahiro Shinoda, came out of Shochiku studious, oldest of the "big four" movie houses in Japan. There, in the early fifties, he learned his craft as an assistant to the great master, Yasujiro Ozu. Possibly my favorite filmmaker of all time (this changes as the wind blows).

Shinoda's first film as director in 1960, "One Way Ticket to Love", placed him firmly among the Japanese New Wave, though he doesn't seem to have quite caught on in the West like Shohei Imamura or Seijun Suzuki did.

"Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees" is a strange, gorgeously shot fable. In a land where walking under the blossoms of a cherry tree in bloom will drive a person mad, a base, violent, mountain bandit kidnaps a beautiful woman from the "capital" to be his wife. In love with her, he goes to ever more excessive lengths to please her whims, which themselves become more and more ungrounded from reality, turning towards the utterly macabre. Beauty and love, and what we do for them, is the horror on display here.

The movie stars Tomisaburo Wakayama from "Lone Wolf and Cub" as the barbarous mountain warrior, and Shinoda's wife, Shima Iwashita, as the mad city woman.

The movie is bookended with stunning, open, vistas of an entire valley filled with endless blooming cherry blossom trees, which composer Toru Takemitsu's score, atonal and traditional-flute haunted, somehow makes ominous even in the brightest of daylight, like giant, swaying ghosts. Drifts of cherry blossoms swoop on whirling winds across the images, and, as we near our climax, sometimes fill the ground, dense as snow pack.

But as the action moves from the mountains to the city, the style turns more theatrical, with sets designed like stages, allowing for a single camera point to gaze in at the choreographed action; large matte painted backgrounds in certain parts of the city to create a world ravaged by violence, weather, and immorality; opening narration, seemingly read by a child, stick it firmly into the mire of twisted storybooks; and the bold acting style, not uncommon for Japanese cinema of the era, recalls kabuki and noh styles.

This is a great, great film. If you have the penchant for 1970's Japanese cinema, I say seek it out.


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