- 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)
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Kwaidan - Masters of Cinema series [DVD] 
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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'.
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
one of the best films ever made. Japanese ghost stories so stylish you'll catch your breath ... melancholic and existential and never less than visually lavishPublished 19 months ago by artful
This is a very good film in a good DVD transfer. It makes me wish for a high-definition blu-ray, though. This Eureka! Read morePublished on 2 Dec. 2014 by Sandra L Jones
I just love the Japanese Samurai/ghost stories - I think you either like or loathe these films - this is a beautPublished on 25 Nov. 2014 by dg
Watched again and again: one of the great pieces of Japanese film-making.Published on 11 Sept. 2014 by DBman