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The Ballad of Narayama (1983)

Narayama bushikô (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 29 April 1983 (Japan)
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:

Shôhei Imamura

Writers:

Shôhei Imamura (screenplay), Shichirô Fukazawa (novel)
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9 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

29 April 1983 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

The Ballad of Narayama See more »

Filming Locations:

Niigata, Japan See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Toei Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Connections

Referenced in C'est le coeur qui meurt en dernier (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Risuke no uta
Written by Hitoshi Machida
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A shocking, depressing, and even humorous depiction of a villages efforts to survive.
27 January 2005 | by Aaron KiddSee 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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