Monday, 14 May 2007
Lafcadio Hearn was an American who became a Japanese citizen. Among other things he collected Japanese ghost stories and weird tales. Masaki Kobayashi’s 1964 movie Kwaidan is based on four of these stories. The stories themselves are excellent – they’re subtle horror that doesn’t rely on gore, but the horror is still very real. Kobayashi’s translation of these into film is masterful – this is a gloriously visual movie with some of the most arresting, most beautiful, and most disquieting images you’ll see in a movie. The music is also exceptionally well done and adds to the atmosphere of eeriness. The film is deliberately non-realistic with much of it shot on sound stages – Kobayashi is deliberately drawing attention to the film as story-telling. I can’t recommend this movie too highly.