Original title: Narayama Bushi-ko (1983
Director: Shohei Imamura
Starring: Ken Ogata , Sumiko Sakamoto , Tonpei Hidari , Takejo Aki , Shoichi Ozawa
Language: Japanese (English Subtitled
, 130min, Color
Awards: 1983 Cannes Film Festival
, Palme d'Or
Following is an excerpt from the intro of essay I did in my English class entitled: Japanese literature on Film1.
Shohei Imamura's Ballad of Narayama takes place in a remote village. Cut off from the world around them and living in harsh conditions led the community to use extreme measures to keep the community alive. The family unit has a much greater importance then the individual. Hence in their view, the older you get the less productive you get until you finally be come a burden to the people around you. Infanticide is common, and sealing is punishment by death, unthinkable acts for a society where we glorify the individual. Without such measures this tightly knit society would cease to exist. Imamura repeatedly uses animal wild life in parallel to what is happening in the village and between families. Snakes fighting, a hawk capturing a prey, raccoon stealing eggs a villager stealing potatoes; all share a common link between animals and man's place in the natural environment.
1 This class was offered at John Abbott College until winter 2001, when the college realized that reading films during an entire semester was not educational. Although the class still exist under a different title without the word film.