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The Ballad of Narayama (1983) (Masters of Cinema) [Dual Format Blu-ray & DVD]

Ken Ogata , Shohei Imamura    Suitable for 15 years and over   Blu-ray
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: £9.72 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

The Ballad of Narayama (1983) (Masters of Cinema) [Dual Format Blu-ray & DVD] + The Insect Woman/ Nishi-Ginza Station - Dual Format (Blu-ray+DVD) [Masters of Cinema] [1963] + Profound Desires of the Gods - Dual Format (Blu-ray+DVD) [Masters of Cinema] [1968]
Price For All Three: £27.30

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Product details

  • Actors: Ken Ogata
  • Directors: Shohei Imamura
  • Format: Import, Blu-ray, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Eureka Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 24 Oct 2011
  • Run Time: 130 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,371 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Cinematic anthropologist extraordinaire Shohei Imamura won his first Palme d'Or at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival for The Ballad of Narayama [Narayama bushik ], his transcendent adaptation of two classic stories by Shichiro  Fukazawa.

In a small village in a remote valley where the harshness of life dictates that survival overrules compassion, elderly widow Orin is approaching her 70th birthday - the age when village law says she must go up to the mythic Mount Narayama to die. But there are several loose ends within her own family to tie up first.

Creating a vividly realised inverse image of 'civilised' society with typical directness and black humour, Imamura presents a bracingly unsentimental rumination on mortality and an engrossing study of a community's struggles against the natural elements. Handled with a masterful control and simplicity, moving effortlessly between the comic and the horrific, The Ballad of Narayama is one of the legendary director's deepest, richest works, and ranks among the finest films of its decade.


  • New, restored high-definition transfer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • Exclusive new video interview with scholar Tony Rayns
  • Four original Japanese theatrical trailers, including behind-the-scenes footage
  • PLUS: A lavish booklet featuring an interview with Sh hei Imamura, excerpts from the producer's on-set diary, rare promotional material and stills, and more!

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Long Walk To Freedom 10 Oct 2012
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
In a isolated Japanese mountain village,life is one hardship after another as the villagers struggle to make it through the bitter winter to grow crops in the spring and summer and then attempt to sustain their relationships with each other and with their food supplies to battle through the next winter.

The Neko family, led by matriarch Granny Orin(the superb Sakamoto Sumiko, who had replaced the original choice in the role and who was only 49 at the time and who at Imamura's insistence removed her 3 front top teeth for the role),are the focal point of the film.Her "sons",the widower Tatsuhei(Ken Ogata)has agreed to a second marriage,Katsuzo(Ozawa Shoichi) spends all his time singing and getting the eldest Amaya daughter pregnant with tragic consequences and Risuke(Hidari Tonpei)the family idiot with a body odour problem.
Granny Orin is determined to get her family's affairs in order before honouring the village custom which is that when you reach 70 you are carried up the Narayama mountain to be left to die as an offering to the Gods.

Imamura's take on this oft filmed Japanese fairy tale is as always a striking affair.The story meanders a little at times but the performances are rich,the naturalistic approach is very effective and there are some pretty strong moments along the way -the punishment of the Amaya family and the"body" in the field as the snows thaw -which are handled with sensitivity and weight by the sureness of Imamura's direction.

A lot of filmgoer's are becoming more familiar with Japanese cinema through Ozu,Mizoguchi,Shindo,etc and I would place Imamura alongside them.

MoC have put together another good package.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the horror behind the traditions 13 Dec 2012
By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This is nothing if not an extremely vivid depiction of a traditional Japanese town, where there are terrible secrets and meaningless cruelties behind the facade of order. It is brutal and sad, but there is also grace in some of the characters, in particular the kindly if deeply conservative grandmother, Orin.

The town is an agricultural outpost in 19C Japan, largely cut off from life in the city and mired in poverty. The village is so poor that the population balance must be strictly maintained: only the eldest sons are allowed to procreate or even marry, unwanted children (particularly females) are exposed to die, and elders are led to the mountain top and left to freeze or die of thirst at the age of 70. As one might imagine, this creates terrible pain for everyone, though it enables them to survive as a community in demographic stasis.

The principal character is Orin, who at 69 is robust and much loved and respected in her village. She feels shame at her health and consciously chooses to go through the ritual of passing on her right to live to the next generation. Her eldest son is full of anguish, but will also obey the forms; he is newly remarried by arrangement with a woman from a nearby village whom he has never met. She arrives hungry for life and selfish to take whatever she can for her moment. Orin's younger son is a desperately lonely man, who is treated as an outcast by the other villagers, largely because his has a deteriorating lung that makes his breath unsupportable. He is full of anger and malice, hating his taunting nephew. YOu feel sympathy for them, but more than anything they appear as selfish brutes.

The rest of the town is similarly dysfunctional.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful film. 27 Dec 2011
From the gorgeous opening sequence, of snow covered dwellings, and the sheer beauty of the Japanese calligraphy of the titles, this film is a joy to watch. A simple, deeply moving story of the harsh life in poor, rural Japan, and a tale of the human condition.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing film 22 Mar 2013
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
This is a film for those who love cinema as a form of art and who like to use it to consider the ethics of life. I do not want to go into the content of the movie, but I would like to recommend it. Blue-ray.... as usual... if you have a screen that is any smaller than the one in a movie theatre... it is not possible to see the difference.
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