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Kwaidan - Masters of Cinema series [DVD] [1964]

4.8 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Rentaro Mikuni, Katsuo Nakamura
  • Directors: Masaki Kobayashi
  • Format: Anamorphic, PAL, Subtitled
  • 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: PG
  • Studio: Eureka Entertainment Ltd
  • DVD Release Date: 29 May 2006
  • Run Time: 183 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000F4LBPO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,158 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Four classic traditional ghost stories from director Masaki Kobayashi. 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'.

From Amazon.co.uk

Lafcadio Hearn, 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 alternate DVD edition.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Masaki Kobayashi's extraordinary masterpiece Kwaidan, consists of four haunting ghost tales, well known in Japanese mythology, adapted from Lafcadio Hearn's classic interpretations from his book Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things.

The first tale "Black Hair", sends a moral message about appreciating what you have and not to seek fortune for reasons such as vanity and greed. The opening sequence is hypnotic, as the camera pans slowly over the gate of an old and dilapidated house. It goes through the garden into the house, with the sound of wood slapping together. This is a brilliant start to an eerie story and sets the mood perfectly. It cleverly uses dark colours, which does not prepare you for the astoundingly vivid colours of the next tale.

"The Woman of the Snow" features the popular folkloric creature Yuki-Onna, who controls the snow. This segment starts of with a stormy, snow covered forest with a green and blue background. On the background is swirling eyes beautifully painted, like glass marbles. As the storm calms down, a small red flag is fluttering in the vast amounts of pearly white snow. When the cold weather has ended, there are warm, rich reds, yellows and oranges all blending in together. Throughout the story, there are eyes across the sky, either shut or open, which creates a beautiful mixture of Expressionism and Japanese imagery.

The most interesting and brilliant story is "Hoachi the Earless". It opens with a breathtaking scene depicting the true story of The Battle of Dan-no-ura, with a haunting voice performing the most famous part of the epic war poem "The Tale of the Heike", which is accompanied by an instrument called the Biwa. All of the stories in Kwaidan have exquisite imagery and a poetic elegance to them.
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Format: VHS Tape
This is quite simply one of the most exquisite films ever made, a marvel of aesthetic refinement in every way, and a unique work of art. There are not enough superlatives to describe the manifold wonders of Kwaidan: the fine acting, gorgeous sets, subtle direction, and especially the extraordinary musique concrete score by Takemitsu, all combined by the obsessive artistry of Kobayashi to realize a rare and beautiful cinematic vision. This film is beyond praise.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This film is incredibly impressive. It has some of the finest, most colourful cinematography ever filmed. It is a movie in four parts, each one telling a new ghost story. Each story has varying levels of intensity and involvement, but my favourite of them is Yuki Onna, which tells of a peasant who falls under the spell of a sorceress, marries a gorgeous woman, and after living with her for many years, discovers an onimous secret about her. It is one of the greatest twists in cinema history - certainly more shocking than the twist of The Sixth Sense movie. It is direction of the highest order, just using fantastic lighting and massive set designs. The director, Masaki Kobayahi, has created a brilliant cinematic masterpiece here. It is essential viewing for any would-be director or lover of superb asian cinema. It is right up there with the best of Kurasawa, without any doubt whatsoever. It is quite hard to believe this was made in the 60s. It has the best use of widescreen and colour ever seen! Buy it if you like movies!
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When I received the DVD from amazon.co.uk , I cherished hopes to experience the touch with the Japanese culture (music, lifestyle) and mystic things.

I did hope to remember the comments of the American professor, a good specialist of religion and anthropology who told about this movie for a large audience from Siauliai University after the private view with professors and students.

My expectations did not change...

I was surprised to find the small booklet with the text of the stories told in this film and additional comments on the film.

The film is interesting to watch and think about because it tells 4 interesting mystic stories covering Japanese life of the Middle ages and later periods.

The plots of the stories have the intrigue aspects and the moral teaching good things.

The soundtrack is interesting to listen, because the Japanese national instruments were used.

A good film, a must to have in your collection of DVD films...
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It took a bit longer than the estimated time but it did arrive within the timeframe the seller mentioned after contacting . The country code is #2 not #1 for the US. But many dvd players have universal playback. There is a great little paperback book included hidden within the dvd case that is 71 pages long and recounts the history of Lafcadeo Hearn's book of ghost stories that were collected I believe from the people during his travels throughout Japan during the 1900 year and earlier. Also a synopsis of the stories shown in the film as well as illustrations are within the pages. An interview in July of 1993 with the director Masaki Kobayashi is also included in this book concerning many of his films and personal recollections of these films. The book is a hidden treasure, a bonus in addition to the extra 21 mins of film that was not included in the US theatre showings or the US video releases. This is a refreshing change from the current horror shock shlock that contains little substance. The younger generation may not have the attention span to let a film like this soak in after a lifetime of videogame shock and awe, but it is not their fault. This is also a visual art work and you will see this as an unusual unique look into the ghost story as told from a Japanese prospective. Highly recommended.
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