Portmanteau of four classic traditional ghost stories from director Masaki Kobayashi, presented for the first time in the complete original cut. In these stories, mortals find themselves caught up with strange supernatural forces beyond their comprehension. The individual stories are: 'Black Hair', 'The Snow Maiden', 'Hoichi the Earless' and 'In a Cup of Tea'.
, the Greek-Irish-American author turned Japanese citizen, was one of the most singular writers of the 19th century, and from his collection of traditional Japanese ghost stories the director Masaki Kobayashi fashioned one of the most eerily beautiful films ever made. Kwaidan
was Kobayashi's first film in colour; spurning realism and aiming for "the ultimate in stylised film method", he shot the whole movie inside a huge disused hangar, painting all the sets himself. The film comprises four stories: in "Black Hair" a man returns to seek the wife he abandoned; "The Woman of the Snows" is a chilly, beautiful spirit who preys on lone travellers; "Hoichi the Earless" tells of a young monk compelled each night by ghostly warriors to recount the saga of a famous sea battle (when he tries to evade them, they exact a horrible revenge); and the luckless protagonist of "In a Cup of Tea" discovers someone's soul grinning at him out of his beverage. Each story sustains its own distinct mood, but all four share an unsettling, dreamlike sense of otherworldliness. To enhance the overall weirdness, Kobayashi worked closely with the composer Toru Takemitsu to create an offbeat score, rejecting conventional instruments in favour of sonic effects such as wood being split and pebbles being struck together. There has never been another ghost film quite like this. --Philip Kemp
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.