- It is worth noting that in at least one year during the prime of Ozu and Kurosawa, it is Keisuke Kinoshita who made the best Japanese film of the year (Equinox Flower for Ozu and The Hidden Fortress for Kurosawa in 1958).
- It was famously dismissed (and debated) by some at Cahiers du Cinéma for the vast departure from realism in the world Kinoshita built (which feels like judging it on the merit of its black and white photography (it is in color)).
- Set in a remote village, Kinuyo Tanaka (playing way older, and she is fantastic here) plays Orin. Orin is approaching 70-years old and in this village the tradition is that the elders are carried up to a mountain and left to die.
- Shohei Imamura made this film in 1983 as well.
- The sets are meticulously, and beautifully designed. This is Wes Anderson’s diorama. Even the autumnal colors seem to predict Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009). Kinoshita even uses very bracketed and controlled tracking shots and camera movements (like Wes). In one scene at the cemetery, he rolls right, then forward. The stones are flanked (carefully arranged of course- symmetrical) by the flowers. Kinoshita keeps it largely at a medium-long shot distance to enjoy the details of the mise-en-scene. It is not just a painted backdrop either, there’s depth to the diorama, and his camera is often moving behind items like tree branches and wooden structures.
- For many of the scene transitions, Kinoshita moves the entire set—he drops the lights, and essentially cut without cutting- fascinating.
- The camera slides behind the doors completely for a tracking shot at the 23-minute mark
- Orin is a genuinely good woman- a matriarch who catches trout and feeds another elderly vagrant (ostracized from his family).
- Production designer Kisaku Itô also worked with Mizoguchi including Ugetsu (1953). This is quite an accomplishment for Itô here. There’s a pink-lit sky background, in another scene there are splashes of a bright green.
- A Must-See film- top five of the year quality
This was the last film entered by Ebert into the Great Movies collection before he died.
I am just watching The Ballad od Narayama, and I’m really impressed. Is there any other film by Kinoshita that you can recommend?
@RujK- This the only one in the archives and only one I’ve seen