226 Onibaba

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Martha
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226 Onibaba

#1 Post by Martha » Sat Feb 12, 2005 9:20 pm

Onibaba

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Deep in the windswept marshes of war-torn medieval Japan, an impoverished older woman and her daughter-in-law murder lost samurai and sell their belongings for the most meager of sustenance. When a bedraggled neighbor returns from battle, lust, jealousy, and rage threaten to destroy the trio's tenuous existence, before an ominous, ill-gotten demon mask seals their horrifying fate. Driven by primal emotions, dark eroticism, a frenzied score by Hikaru Hayashi, and stunning images both lyrical and macabre, the chilling folktale Onibaba by Kaneto Shindo conjures a nightmarish vision of humankind's deepest desires and impulses.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• On the Blu-ray: Restored high-definition transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
• On the DVD: High-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound and enhanced for widescreen televisions
• Audio commentary from 2001 featuring director Kaneto Shindo and actors Kei Sato and Jitsuko Yoshimura (Blu-ray only)
• Interview from 2003 with Shindo
• On-location footage shot by Sato
• Trailer
• Stills gallery featuring production sketches and promotional art (DVD only)
• Filmmaker's statement from writer/director Kaneto Shindo
• English subtitle translation
• Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition (DVD only)
• PLUS: An essay by film critic Elena Lazic (Blu-ray only), a 2001 director's statement by Shindo, and a version of the Buddhist fable that inspired the film

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Lino
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#2 Post by Lino » Mon Feb 14, 2005 8:11 am

I think this is essential reading for future buyers of this film (though a tad on the technical side...)

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#3 Post by hammock » Sun Nov 13, 2005 5:22 am

Besides some nice pictures of grass fields this movie did not bring much to the table in my opinion. I noticed something strange in the beginning of the movie: When the mother and daughter was swapping the samurai equipment from the two Samurais they threw down into the hole, they ask for two bags of millet. The trader won't give them more than one, but when they leave the cave they clearly put two bags in their basket. Did I miss something? It took me almost 5 minutes before I could concentrate on the movie again as I find it hard to forgive that kind of sloppiness. Hopefully I got it wrong...

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#4 Post by nyasa » Wed Feb 22, 2006 7:00 am

I just watched the MOC version of this movie, which I presume is identical in content to the Criterion. The trader gives them two bags, and they ask for a third - which he says he'll only give them if the older woman sleeps with him. She tells him where to go, and they leave with just the two.

I was similarly underwhelmed by this movie. The artful shots of swaying grass are nice enough, but I suspect that much of the movie's reputation in the West is due to its explicit (for 1964) eroticism.

I think Shindo made better use of a natural setting in The Naked Island, and he dealt with the 'mother & daughter-in-law killing wandering samurai' scenario more compellingly in Kuroneko.

Anonymous

#5 Post by Anonymous » Sun May 14, 2006 4:51 am

I saw this film in it's MOC incarnation last night and was completely blown away by it. Shindo produces with his simple approach what Greenaway tried but failed spectacularly to achieve with his deeply overblown, ludicrously pretentious and unengaging 'The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover': a portrait of life stripped to its bare, Godless, amoral essentials of eating, copulating & violence.

To be honest, when people go on about the great filmmakers in Forums like this I often wonder what they are on about.

Let's take Japanese cinema, for example: Kurosawa hardly ever gets near the level of visual poetry Shindo displays so effortlessly here. Plus you have to make allowances for the horrendous mugging/overacting that goes on in his films. Maybe it has something to do with Noh or Kabuki or whatever but who cares? It's still an irritation.'Throne of Blood' and 'Ran' have their moments and 'Seven Samurai' is slightly above average, but Kurosawa is, for me at least, the most overrated Japanese movie director.

Then there's Mizoguchi: I haven't seen Ugetsu yet but based on viewings of 47 Ronin, Sansho, Oharu and Taira Clan I'd say that he's very, very good but too constrained by his own formality for my liking.

Teshigahara is certainly on to something in his films. But Shindo gets there in half the time if you want to do a straight comparison of 'Onibaba' with 'Woman Of The Dunes'.

Sorry film buffs: at the end of the day it's not about camera angles, crane shots and what not. It's about taking the viewer to a place they never imagined they were going, something Shindo does remarkably here.

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#6 Post by skuhn8 » Sun May 14, 2006 5:02 am

A Lump of Green Slime wrote:Sorry film buffs: at the end of the day it's not about camera angles, crane shots and what not. It's about taking the viewer to a place they never imagined they were going, something Shindo does remarkably here.
Well pop my bubble.
Curious to know which of Kurosawa's many films you have seen to suggest that he is overrated.

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#7 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun May 14, 2006 5:04 am

A Lump of Green Slime wrote:I saw this film in it's MOC incarnation last night and was completely blown away by it. Shindo produces with his simple approach what Greenaway tried but failed spectacularly to achieve with his deeply overblown, ludicrously pretentious and unengaging 'The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover': a portrait of life stripped to its bare, Godless, amoral essentials of eating, copulating & violence.

To be honest, when people go on about the great filmmakers in Forums like this I often wonder what they are on about.

Let's take Japanese cinema, for example: Kurosawa hardly ever gets near the level of visual poetry Shindo displays so effortlessly here. Plus you have to make allowances for the horrendous mugging/overacting that goes on in his films. Maybe it has something to do with Noh or Kabuki or whatever but who cares? It's still an irritation.'Throne of Blood' and 'Ran' have their moments and 'Seven Samurai' is slightly above average, but Kurosawa is, for me at least, the most overrated Japanese movie director.

Then there's Mizoguchi: I haven't seen Ugetsu yet but based on viewings of 47 Ronin, Sansho, Oharu and Taira Clan I'd say that he's very, very good but too constrained by his own formality for my liking.

Teshigahara is certainly on to something in his films. But Shindo gets there in half the time if you want to do a straight comparison of 'Onibaba' with 'Woman Of The Dunes'.

Sorry film buffs: at the end of the day it's not about camera angles, crane shots and what not. It's about taking the viewer to a place they never imagined they were going, something Shindo does remarkably here.
... (long silence) :oops:

Okay now uh where were we..?
Last edited by HerrSchreck on Sun May 14, 2006 5:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#8 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun May 14, 2006 5:05 am

A Lump of Green Slime wrote:Sorry film buffs
At least he apologized. :-k

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#9 Post by skuhn8 » Sun May 14, 2006 5:08 am

skuhn8 wrote:
A Lump of Green Slime wrote:Sorry film buffs: at the end of the day it's not about camera angles, crane shots and what not. It's about taking the viewer to a place they never imagined they were going, something Shindo does remarkably here.
Well pop my bubble.
Curious to know which of Kurosawa's many films you have seen to suggest that he is overrated.
Yeah, I think this query is taking it off topic.

Hey Slime, I'll meet you at the Kurosawa thread after school. Three o'clock. You be there or I'll be looking for you! :evil:

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#10 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun May 14, 2006 5:10 am

That (silence) wasn't geared towards you-- you got between my 1st response to his post. That was me being stunned by the sound of the slime.

Anonymous

#11 Post by Anonymous » Sun May 14, 2006 6:48 am

The Kurosawa movies I've seen are 'Ran', 'Throne of Blood', 'Seven Samurai', 'Kagemusha'and 'Rashomon'. I own the first two and wouldn't part with them. The last hour of 'Ran' is mesmerising. And 'Throne of Blood' just seems to exist entirely on its own terms as something unique and pretty damn wonderful.

But whisper it quietly: 'Kagemusha' is ponderous. And 'Rashomon' well, so what if Kurosawa gives equal weight to all the versions of what happened? I expect the best movies to offer a bit more than this and so after these two I gave up with Kurosawa. The most generous I can be about this is that Akutagawa's orginal short story isn't as good as it's cracked up to be. I much preferred 'Hell Screen'.

I also wonder if people sort of get coerced into joining in the acclaim for the top directors. You almost feel unclean if you break ranks. It's like there are compulsory things to say/do when you join the 'foreign film club'.

And so while I'll admit to being just a teeny bit provocative with my earlier post, I am being honest too. At the moment I'm steadily acquiring a DVD collection of the so-called 'great' directors and I'm not all that impressed by some of them. It's also the less volcanically hyped ones like Shindo that make the deepest impression.

One thing I do know is that I'll return to 'Onibaba' again. I just hope 'Kuroneko', 'Naked Island' and 'Edo Porn' are as good.

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#12 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun May 14, 2006 7:12 am

A Lump of Green Slime wrote:The Kurosawa movies I've seen are 'Ran', 'Throne of Blood', 'Seven Samurai', 'Kagemusha'and 'Rashomon'. I own the first two and wouldn't part with them. The last hour of 'Ran' is mesmerising. And 'Throne of Blood' just seems to exist entirely on its own terms as something unique and pretty damn wonderful.

But whisper it quietly: 'Kagemusha' is ponderous. And 'Rashomon' well, so what if Kurosawa gives equal weight to all the versions of what happened? I expect the best movies to offer a bit more than this and so after these two I gave up with Kurosawa. The most generous I can be about this is that Akutagawa's orginal short story isn't as good as it's cracked up to be. I much preferred 'Hell Screen'.

I also wonder if people sort of get coerced into joining in the acclaim for the top directors. You almost feel unclean if you break ranks. It's like there are compulsory things to say/do when you join the 'foreign film club'.

And so while I'll admit to being just a teeny bit provocative with my earlier post, I am being honest too. At the moment I'm steadily acquiring a DVD collection of the so-called 'great' directors and I'm not all that impressed by some of them. It's also the less volcanically hyped ones like Shindo that make the deepest impression.

One thing I do know is that I'll return to 'Onibaba' again. I just hope 'Kuroneko', 'Naked Island' and 'Edo Porn' are as good.
Now move away from the iffy Kurosawa & move to more of his masterpieces: see IKIRU, REDBEARD, HIGH & LOW, YOJIMBO, LOWER DEPTHS, DERSU UZALA. Then you'll understand what all the fuss is about.

You're like a guy who's seen AVIATOR & AFTER HOURS & maybe MEAN STREETS, and wants to know what all the fuss is about over Scorcese without having seen TAXI DRIVER, RAGING BULL KING OF COMEDY, GOODFELLAS.

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#13 Post by skuhn8 » Sun May 14, 2006 7:35 am

A Lump of Green Slime wrote:The Kurosawa movies I've seen are 'Ran', 'Throne of Blood', 'Seven Samurai', 'Kagemusha'and 'Rashomon'. I own the first two and wouldn't part with them. The last hour of 'Ran' is mesmerising. And 'Throne of Blood' just seems to exist entirely on its own terms as something unique and pretty damn wonderful.

But whisper it quietly: 'Kagemusha' is ponderous. And 'Rashomon' well, so what if Kurosawa gives equal weight to all the versions of what happened? I expect the best movies to offer a bit more than this and so after these two I gave up with Kurosawa. The most generous I can be about this is that Akutagawa's orginal short story isn't as good as it's cracked up to be. I much preferred 'Hell Screen'.

I also wonder if people sort of get coerced into joining in the acclaim for the top directors. You almost feel unclean if you break ranks. It's like there are compulsory things to say/do when you join the 'foreign film club'.

And so while I'll admit to being just a teeny bit provocative with my earlier post, I am being honest too. At the moment I'm steadily acquiring a DVD collection of the so-called 'great' directors and I'm not all that impressed by some of them. It's also the less volcanically hyped ones like Shindo that make the deepest impression.

One thing I do know is that I'll return to 'Onibaba' again. I just hope 'Kuroneko', 'Naked Island' and 'Edo Porn' are as good.
Again, I don't want to turn this into a Kurosawa defense as it's a thread for Onibaba, but I don't see how you can reduce the significance of Rashomon to giving "equal weight to all the versions of what happened" any more than you can say that Ugetsu is "another Japanese ghost story". There's a lot more there. It's a dramatic departure in narrative technique (ouch, trite terminology alert!), language through cinematography (ok, there's more to great cinema than camera angles, I know) and performance (yes, this last one is highly contentious--hammy to some).

For me Red Beard definitely sealed the deal (definitely my fav), so please, keep your talons off of Kuro until you really roll in this one. Ikiru is definitely a must as well, though I detect a growing lack of sympathy for Watanabe among cinephiles that I do not understand. As far as I'm concerned if the guy had never made a samurai flick he'd still be a top dog for me.

But to get back on topic, I think Onibaba is a landmark film, very atmospheric, and a little titilation doesn't hurt either.

I get the impression that your desire to collect the "cinematic cannon" will result in many unpleasant surprises. Cannon's [sic?] are faulty for that very reason; there is much fodder for discussion among the acknowledged greats but on a personal level such a collection doesn't mean shit. If de Sica or Powell and Pressburger don't spin your head in raptures of glee then there you go, move on to the next, but to enter into discussions of whether they are over-rated or not, that Rosi is better then Sica because his praises aren't sung high enough doesn't really amount to anything.

Anonymous

#14 Post by Anonymous » Sun May 14, 2006 9:38 am

Thanks for the advice. I've had Dersu Uzala for a couple of years without watching it again (the first time doesn't really count because it was too long ago). I'll start there.

As for acquiring DVDs of the greats, there's a reason: the main UK TV channels very rarely show subtitled films (aside from Japanese horror) these days. And what's served up instead is dreck. So I'm stocking up on films in order to have something decent to watch.

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#15 Post by tryavna » Sun May 14, 2006 11:12 am

A Lump of Green Slime wrote:As for acquiring DVDs of the greats, there's a reason: the main UK TV channels very rarely show subtitled films (aside from Japanese horror) these days. And what's served up instead is dreck. So I'm stocking up on films in order to have something decent to watch.
This is, of course, a position that many of us were in when we first started becoming interested in classic foreign-language cinema, and purchasing CCs and now MoCs (sometimes blindly) is an expensive but reliable way of learning. The point is not to dismiss a director's whole body of work simply because the first two or three films don't appeal to your sensibilities. That's a mistake I very nearly made with Renoir -- until I finally just "got" him during a second viewing of The River one day. That's not to say that you have to continue purchasing DVDs of directors you don't like, but having one or two in your collection to return to after you've aged a year or two and gained valuable life-experience can open many doors of perception. (EDIT: And I mean to be speaking generally here, not necessarily assuming that you're a "whipper-snapper." Don't want to sound condescending.)

And by the way, if truth be known, most of us probably have our pet hates (i.e., cannonical directors whom we simply don't like). Mine is probably Godard, though I do return to him from time to time to see if I can "get" what all the fuss is about.

Anonymous

#16 Post by Anonymous » Sun May 14, 2006 12:50 pm

tryavna wrote:
A Lump of Green Slime wrote:As for acquiring DVDs of the greats, there's a reason: the main UK TV channels very rarely show subtitled films (aside from Japanese horror) these days. And what's served up instead is dreck. So I'm stocking up on films in order to have something decent to watch.
This is, of course, a position that many of us were in when we first started becoming interested in classic foreign-language cinema, and purchasing CCs and now MoCs (sometimes blindly) is an expensive but reliable way of learning. The point is not to dismiss a director's whole body of work simply because the first two or three films don't appeal to your sensibilities. That's a mistake I very nearly made with Renoir -- until I finally just "got" him during a second viewing of The River one day. That's not to say that you have to continue purchasing DVDs of directors you don't like, but having one or two in your collection to return to after you've aged a year or two and gained valuable life-experience can open many doors of perception. (EDIT: And I mean to be speaking generally here, not necessarily assuming that you're a "whipper-snapper." Don't want to sound condescending.)

And by the way, if truth be known, most of us probably have our pet hates (i.e., cannonical directors whom we simply don't like). Mine is probably Godard, though I do return to him from time to time to see if I can "get" what all the fuss is about.
I think you are spot-on and not at all condescending. One of the great things about the best movies is that they sometimes don't impact until you've seen them a few times. This happened to me with Tarkovsky's 'Mirror' on the 4th viewing when I just let the whole experience wash over me.

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#17 Post by malcolm1980 » Mon Jun 11, 2007 1:31 pm

I borrowed this movie from my mentor's DVD collection and the only reason I selected it is that the cover looked really cool and the story intrigued me. I saw it and I loved it. I bought my own copy soon after.

An extraordinary film.

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Re: 226 Onibaba

#18 Post by LQ » Wed Nov 05, 2008 6:53 pm

I really, really, really liked Onibaba. Everything about it was so raw...everyone stripped bare (literally and physically) by desperation and fear and the basest, most primitive modes of survival to reveal that underneath the mask of humanity there's nothing but corrosion and evil. Whew! The film unfolded so ominously, slightly shifty eyes progressing into simmering distrust into betrayal and then death...all under the almost oppressive feeling of stagnant, sweltering atmosphere. No matter how many times the wind swayed that grass, I just felt the most stifling, heavy, and still atmosphere emanating from the screen. Absolutely engrossing.

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Re: 226 Onibaba

#19 Post by dad1153 » Mon May 18, 2009 6:29 pm

Watched "Onibaba" over the weekend. My first Kaneto Shindo movie, one I knew nothing about going in (I never read the blurbs on the back of Criterion's cases; they give away too much) and only picked it at the library because the hand-drawn cover artwork (which is replicated throughout the menu screens) caught my eye. WOW! :shock: What started as a survival story of two poor peasant women's human endurance and dehumanization during one of Japan's feudal wars becomes a tastefully erotic (for '64) tale of forbidden desire, something I just didn't see coming. Then the movie becomes a morality play and, toward the end, a ghost story as ambiguous as "The Shining." Kudos to Shindo for not making Kei Sato's Hachi character a sympathetic or even likable male for Jitsuko Yoshimura's young widow (assuming Hachi is telling the truth about her unseen husband's fate) to desperately seek him out for sex. I never thought seeing a horny gal running through tall grass set to the cooing of pigeons could be so damn erotic. Nobuko Otowa steals the movie as the mother-in-law that is both sexually repressed (when she hugged the tree I nearly screamed before Shindo tilted his camera upward, thank you! 8-)) and desperate-enough to keep her daughter-in-law attached to her (to keep from being lonely or for survival, take your pick) for Nobuko to don the mask that seals her fate. Like in "The Shining" the beauty of "Onibaba" is that even the presence of otherworldly ghosts or spirits is subjective and open to interpretation by the viewer. Either that mask was possessed or it wasn't (how else to explain the 'flying' or the physical deformities after its removal) but either explanation works well without taking away from the movie's many other attributes. A triumph of characterization, visual style and streamlined storytelling over substance.

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Re: 226 Onibaba

#20 Post by barryconvex » Wed Aug 03, 2016 2:23 am

Rewatching this masterpiece tonight i was struck by the streak of white in the hair of Nobuko Ottawa (who plays the mother) and the similarity to the (in)famous white streak in Anne Bancroft's Mrs. Robnson hairstyle. The similarities between the two characters don't end there:
SpoilerShow
most significantly both women sleep (or try to sleep in Ottawa's case) with their daughters' love interest. Although in Onibaba Jitsuko Yoshimura plays Ottawa's daughter in-law and not a blood relative. Later on after both have been spurned by much younger men, and although they're motives are deftly cloaked in seemingly well grounded rationale, both women go to extremes to keep their daughters away from their respective love interests more because of the wound they have suffered to their own vanities than out of any real concern for their child's well being.
I was so struck by these similarities that i wondered if Buck Henry and Mike Nichols, et al had seen Onibaba before starting The Graduate and if Ottawa's characterization had any kind of influence on Bancroft's portrayal of Mrs. R. and if that's ever been addressed anywhere...

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Re: 226 Onibaba

#21 Post by swo17 » Thu Jul 15, 2021 12:48 pm


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Re: 226 Onibaba

#22 Post by Finch » Thu Jul 15, 2021 1:33 pm

Hm, specs aren't a compelling reason to double dip on the MoC BluRay; pity a 4k transfer would have been welcome.

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Re: 226 Onibaba

#23 Post by FrauBlucher » Sat Sep 18, 2021 12:21 pm


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Re: 226 Onibaba

#24 Post by Finch » Sat Sep 18, 2021 8:15 pm

Genuine question: why are we still linking to Svet Atanasov's reviews when we all know they're worth jack shit?

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Re: 226 Onibaba

#25 Post by FrauBlucher » Sat Sep 18, 2021 8:23 pm

I think the screen caps add value. Plus, there are other bluray.com reviewers that have been grading Criterions recently

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