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Onibaba [Masters of Cinema] [DVD] [1964]

Kei Sato , Nobuko Otowa , Kaneto Shindo    Suitable for 15 years and over   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: Kei Sato, Nobuko Otowa
  • Directors: Kaneto Shindo
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Eureka Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 22 Aug 2005
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009N8HQW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 42,204 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

From Amazon.co.uk

If Hammer Studios had ever set up a Japanese franchise, the outcome might have looked rather like this. Kaneto Shindo's film has something of the lurid, full-throated relish for the horror of Hammer at its best, plus a visual elegance all its own. The story is based on a folk tale, set in Japan's war-torn 14th century. The action takes place almost entirely in a riverside marshland overgrown with tall swaying reeds. A woman and her daughter-in-law living in a hut prey on wounded samurai warriors fleeing from a nearby battlefield, killing them and selling their armour for handfuls of rice. When the younger woman falls for a handsome young deserter, the mother decides to put a stop to the affair. But the method she chooses demands a terrible price. Shooting in lustrous widescreen black-and-white, Shindo creates an eerie, atmospheric world haunted by the ceaseless dry whisperings of the reeds. None of the characters is loveable, or even likeable, but the thorough rapacity of the women, and the raw sexuality of the lovers, convey a fierce determination to survive even at the lowest scavenging edge of a violent society. --Philip Kemp

Product Description

Kaneto Shindo, one of Japan's most prolific directors, received his biggest international success with the release of Onibaba in 1964. Its depiction of violence and graphic sexuality was unprecedented at the time of release. Shindo managed — through his own production company Kindai Eiga Kyokai — to bypass the strict, self-regulated Japanese film industry and pave the way for such films as Yasuzo Masumura's Mojuu (1969) and Nagisa Oshima's Ai no corrida (1976).


Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prisoners of the Grass 6 July 2011
By Bob Salter TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:DVD
Never has a film been more a prisoner of its own environment than this film, which is shot entirely amongst the beautiful swaying susuki grass. Hiroshi Teshigahara's "Woman of the Dunes" was a similar captive to the all pervading sands it was filmed in. It is as if the characters of the film are marooned on an isolated island, where they scavenge off the flotsam that comes their way. In this instance it happens to be the hapless half dead soldiers of 14th century feudal Japan who fall victims to an old woman and her daughter in law. These unfortunate victims are polished off in brutal fashion by the women and then robbed of all their armour. The bodies are then dumped unceremoniously down a sinister black hole. They then sell their ill gotten gains for much needed food and then wait like spiders for the next juicy flies to fall into their web. Just when things seem to be going so well a man enters their lives to turn their cloistered existence upside down.

The film was a financial success which is unsurprising given the heavy marketing of the strong sexual content. Strong for the time I should hasten to add! Apart from a few bare breasts and some simulated sex there is only enough naughty content to upset a prudish granny. It all seems a bit tame by todays standards! The film was initially refused a certificate in the UK. It is beautifully shot amongst the grass with some memorable scenes, none better than the young woman running breathlessly through the swaying sea of grass to her lover, the grass seeming to possess a life of its own. The repressed emotions are beautifully conveyed by Nobuko Otawa as the older woman, with mere glances and expressions. Otawa also happened to be the wife and muse of the director Kaneto Shindo.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Demon Woman 30 Jun 2006
Format:DVD
ONIBABA was a worldwide hit when it was released in 1964. It's not hard to see why. The film is an allegory on several levels, commenting on the pointlessness of war and the failings of capitalism. The film can be enjoyed without appreciating any of that, with it's simmering erotisim and superb photography in a unique setting.

The DVD has worthwhile extras. The director's and actor's commentary is quite interesting as is the home video footage taken on location by Kei Sato.

Highly recommended
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Film About Japan 12 Aug 2006
By E. A. Redfearn TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:DVD
I first saw this film during the late 1960s and thought then it was something special. Certainly very different to what Hollywood was producing at the time. This film, superbly filmed and acted, oozes a tremendous atmosphere throughout. Set during the civil wars which blighted Japan during the 16th century, two women, mother and daughter, struggle to survive within a torrid landscape riddled with death. They strip dead Samurai warriors of their armour to sell in order to feed themselves. The daughter then develops a relationship with a warrior who has escaped the war and is just looking for a peaceful and loving existence. Her mother becomes jealous and develops plans to destroy the relationship. Although the ending is a little bizarre, it just ends abruptly, it doesnt spoil the film entirely. There is enough in this film to satisfy any movie buff. Worth seeing.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can You Dig it? 13 Oct 2006
Format:DVD
The general belief that the 1960's was the ground-zero for massive sociological upheaval is one that generally forgets that that decade was almost half over by the time it became the era we remember it for. Until Lee Harvey Oswald's starting rifle ushered in the Love and Napalm dynasty, the first part of the 60's was really a 1950's hangover.

Roughly speaking, `The 60's' only kicked in when the Beatles Landed in America in '64 and ended when the American's landed on the moon five years later. (Were they trying to tell us something?) The so called permissive society emerged from the cultural turbulence of a `swinging London', a `flowered up' San Francisco and a burning Saigon and, as the history books would have it, appeared to challenge everything. Overt sexual, pharmaceutical and political references in entertainment became de rigor and everyone, it seemed, were cutting-edge pioneers at the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Meanwhile on the other side of the planet, and away from `the world', it was just another day at the office for director Kaneto Shindo when he released his haunting sex/death opus Onibaba.

Onibaba (`Demon Hag') is based on a Buddhist fable and tells the story of an old woman and her young daughter-in-law during 14th century feudal Japan (or 16th, or 17th depending on who's website you use to check these things) who live in a seemingly endless swamp of high reeds and survive by murdering lost or renegade Samurai warriors.

They strip their victims of their armour to sell for food then dispose of the bodies in a deep dark ominous hole.

One day a masked stranger is passing and forces the old woman to help him find his way to Kyoto.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An atmospheric Japanese classic 17 Jun 2013
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Onibaba is a classic Japanese movie which, due to its location (fields of reeds and tall grasses waving in the breeze) and the excellent cinematography has a sweat-soaked atmosphere of menace and amoral behaviour, created by the need to survive in a war-ravaged society. It is sometimes described as a 'horror' film which is a huge mistake; what the mother and daughter do is horrible enough but at no point is it frightening to a 21st century viewer. This movie is all about duplicity, barely suppressed erotic desire and the consequences of living beyond the rules.

I have watched this film on many occasions and it's a worthwhile experience every time. It is visually compelling in a way that completely underscores the sexual tension and the desperately unpleasant way these women have chosen (been compelled?) to make a living. Eerily beautiful photography and characters you can't look away from; quite simply a classic.

The blu-ray transfer is up to the usual Eureka standard and comes with an informative booklet and extras. An essential blu-ray for the lover of Japanese classic movie-making.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars TOP FILM. I THINK THAT ANYONE INTERESTED IN POST ...
TOP FILM.I THINK THAT ANYONE INTERESTED IN POST WAR CINEMA NEEDS TO WATCH THIS. IT IS FASCINATING ON SO MANY LEVELS.
Published 3 hours ago by colin syddall
5.0 out of 5 stars Master of Cinema, brilliant
Excellent if like me you like Asian Films and Dramas. As with all Asian Films, always exciting, always sad, and always full of action, excellent in so many ways.
Published 8 days ago by Seligor
5.0 out of 5 stars The best 'ghost' story
Can we have a sixth star? The best 'ghost' story ever
Published 23 days ago by MC
5.0 out of 5 stars When noble samurai fight for the power over the land, the humble just...
I liked this 1964 ground-breaking drama about two women trying to survive in the middle of merciless Nanbokucho Wars which devastated Japan during most of XIV century. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Maciej
5.0 out of 5 stars WHETHER BLURAY OR DVD IS ALL RIGHT.
WHETHER BLURAY OR DVD IS ALL RIGHT. SAME FILM, SAME BONUS MATERIALS(UHH...WHAT?), ALMOST ORDINARY STANDARD PACKAGE. IS IT REALLY NECESSARY TO BUY BLURAY?
Published 6 months ago by HAN XIAO
5.0 out of 5 stars Prime Evil
Japan during the feudal era relegated the peasants to the edge of extinction as they could no longer grow crops due to the incessant raiding and fighting of the Samurai classes. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles
5.0 out of 5 stars Japanese cinema
Not exactly what I expected, but as a Japanese cinema buff followed and understood the theme. A lot of the shooting is done at night, a real mood story. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Buccaneer
4.0 out of 5 stars TO DISCOVER
It's always endless the number of japanese films that I don't know, and always a pleasure do discover them in fine copies. Thanks Masters of Cinema!
Published 14 months ago by JLR
5.0 out of 5 stars Onibaba was a high quality blue ray
This is a classic movie of great clarity and a very clean print , It arrived to us well within the stipulated time limit so we are pleased.
Published 16 months ago by Karin Tomasian
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic from Japan.
This is a film from 1964, and is in black and white. I first saw this as a teenager, and recall being somewhat frightened by it, and also left with a sense of unease, yet the... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Mr. P. Johnson
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