|The Ballad of Narayama|
|Directed by||Shōhei Imamura|
|Produced by|| Goro Kusakabe |
|Written by||Shōhei Imamura|
|Based on|| 楢山節考 (Narayama-bushi Kō)|
by Shichirō Fukazawa
|Starring|| Ken Ogata |
|Music by||Shin’ichirō Ikebe|
|Edited by||Hajime Okayasu|
|Distributed by|| Toei Co. Ltd. |
|April 29, 1983 (Japan)|
September 7, 1984 (U.S. limited)
The Ballad of Narayama (楢山節考, Narayama bushikō) is a 1983 Japanese film by director Shōhei Imamura. It stars Sumiko Sakamoto as Orin, Ken Ogata, and Shoichi Ozawa. It is an adaptation of the book Narayama bushikō by Shichirō Fukazawa and slightly inspired by the 1958 film directed by Keisuke Kinoshita. Both films explore the legendary practice of obasute, in which elderly people were carried to a mountain and abandoned to die. Imamura's film won the Palme d'Or at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival.
The Ballad of Narayama was filmed in Niigata Prefecture and Nagano Prefecture.
The film is set in a small rural village in Japan in the 19th century. According to tradition, once a person reaches the age of 70 he or she must travel to a remote mountain to die of starvation, a practice known as ubasute. The story concerns Orin, who is 69 and of sound health, but notes that a neighbor had to drag his father to the mountain, so she resolves to avoid clinging to life beyond her term. She spends a year arranging all the affairs of her family and village: she severely punishes a family who are hoarding food, and helps her younger son lose his virginity.
The film has some harsh scenes that show how brutal the conditions could be for the villagers. Interspersed between episodes in the film are brief vignettes of nature – birds, snakes, and other animals hunting, watching, singing, copulating or giving birth.
In early 2000s, the movie had a chance to be released in China, on condition that the sex scenes were censored. The director Imamura consulted some Chinese directors. They replied that the sex scenes were necessary contrast to the scenes of death. Imamura decided to turn down the proposal.
The Ballad of Narayama was released on DVD by Umbrella Entertainment in May 2010. The DVD is compatible with all region codes and includes special features such as the theatrical trailer.
The following is an overview of events in 1983 in film, including the highest-grossing films, award ceremonies and festivals, a list of films released and notable deaths.
Shōhei Imamura was a Japanese film director. A key figure in the Japanese New Wave, who continued working into the 21st century, Imamura is the only director from Japan to win two Palme d'Or awards.
Akinobu Ogata, better known by his stage name Ken Ogata, was a Japanese actor.
The Nikkatsu Corporation is a Japanese entertainment company known for its film and television productions. It is Japan's oldest major movie studio, founded in 1912 during the silent film era. The name Nikkatsu amalgamates the words Nippon Katsudō Shashin, literally "Japan Motion Pictures".
Mitsuko Baisho is a Japanese actress, whose most internationally known work has been for director Shohei Imamura, from 1979 up to the director's final film in 2002. Baisho has also appeared in films of Akira Kurosawa. She won awards for best actress at the 10th Hochi Film Award for Love Letter and Ikiteru Uchi ga Hana nano yo Shindara Sore made yo to Sengen. She also won the award for best supporting actress at the 8th Hochi Film Award for The Geisha and at the 22nd Hochi Film Award for Tokyo Lullaby.
The Ballad of Narayama is a 1958 Japanese period film directed by Keisuke Kinoshita and based on the 1956 novella of the same name by Shichirō Fukazawa. The film explores the legendary practice of obasute, in which elderly people were carried to a mountain and abandoned to die.
Vengeance Is Mine is a 1979 Japanese film directed by Shōhei Imamura, based on the book of the same name by Ryūzō Saki. It depicts the true story of serial killer Akira Nishiguchi, with the film using the name Iwao Enokizu.
The Eel is a 1997 film directed by Shohei Imamura and starring Kōji Yakusho, Misa Shimizu, Mitsuko Baisho, and Akira Emoto. The film is loosely based on the novel On Parole by celebrated author Akira Yoshimura, combined with elements from the director's 1966 film The Pornographers. It shared the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival with Taste of Cherry. It also won the 1998 Kinema Junpo Award for Best Film of the Year.
Black Rain is a 1989 Japanese film by director Shohei Imamura and based on the novel of the same name by Ibuse Masuji. The events are centered on the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in Japan.
The Pornographers is a 1966 Japanese film directed by Shohei Imamura and based on a novel (Erogotoshitachi) by Akiyuki Nosaka. Its original Japanese title is "Erogotoshitachi" yori Jinruigaku nyūmon, which means 'An introduction to anthropology through the pornographers'. It tells the story of porn film-maker Mr. Subuyan Ogata, whose business is under threat from thieves, the government, and his own family.
The Insect Woman is a 1963 Japanese film directed by Shohei Imamura. It was entered into the 14th Berlin International Film Festival where Sachiko Hidari won the Silver Bear for Best Actress award.
Warm Water Under a Red Bridge is a 2001 Japanese film by director Shōhei Imamura. This was Imamura's last feature film. It was entered into the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.
Eijanaika or Why Not? is a 1981 Japanese film by director Shohei Imamura. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival.
Zegen is a 1987 Japanese black comedy film by director Shohei Imamura. It was entered into the 1987 Cannes Film Festival. The film was selected as the Japanese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 60th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.
The Japanese New Wave is a group of loosely-connected Japanese filmmakers during the late 1950s and into the 1970s. Although they did not make up a coherent movement, these artists shared a rejection of traditions and conventions of classical Japanese cinema in favor of more challenging works, both thematically and formally. Coming to the fore in a time of national social change and unrest, the films made in this wave dealt with taboo subject matter, including sexual violence, radicalism, youth culture and deliquency, Korean discrimination, queerness, and the aftermath of World War II. They also adopted more unorthodox and experimental approaches to composition, editing and narrative.
Shichirō Fukazawa was a Japanese author and guitarist whose 1960 short story Fūryū mutan caused a nationwide uproar and led to an attempt by an ultranationalist to assassinate the president of the magazine that published it.
Goryeojang (고려장) is a 1963 South Korean drama film edited, written, produced and directed by Kim Ki-young.
Sumiko Sakamoto was a Japanese singer and award-winning actress, born in Osaka, whose heartfelt performances made her a favorite of the late film director Shohei Imamura. Imamura cast her in three of his films: The Pornographers, Warm Water Under a Red Bridge, and The Ballad of Narayama, winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival. She won the award for Japanese Best Actress from Nihon Academy for her performance in The Ballad of Narayama, as well as a kiss from Orson Welles.
The 36th Cannes Film Festival was held from 7 to 19 May 1983. The Palme d'Or went to the Narayama Bushiko by Shōhei Imamura.
Shōichi Ozawa was a Japanese actor, radio host, singer, and prominent researcher and expert on Japanese folk art. He also founded the Shabondama-za theater company.