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 Onibaba / Demon, The / Hole, The / Демон / Яма / Онибаба

Режиссер: Kaneto Shindo

Страна: Japan

Жанр: Drama

Год выпуска: 1964

Актеры: Nobuko Otowa (as Woman), Jitsuko Yoshimura (as Young Woman), Kei Sato (as Hachi), Jukichi Uno (as Samurai), Taiji Tonoyama (as Ushi), Somesho Matsumoto, Kentaro Kaji, Hosui Araya

Поразительная историческая драма о человеческой жестокости и способности к выживанию, снискавшая славу за визуальное великолепие и мощную драматическую силу. (Иванов М.)

Onibaba marks my introduction to Japanese horror. The fact that prior to this film I had not seen any is due to availability not personal choice. For a Japanese film to have sufficient exposure in the UK it must seemingly fall into one of five discrete categories. Be directed by Akira Kurosawa; be a martial arts film (specifically Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan); be a manga/anime film; involve the Yakuza/crime (especially ‘Beat' Takeshi films or any film ‘paid homage to' by Quentin Tarantino; finally, feature Godzilla and his chums. Horror falls into none of these four, so when Onibaba was screened recently I happily took the demon (nee bull) by the horns.

The setting is medieval Japan, a country torn asunder by civil war. Samurai warlords have conscripted most local men to fight in their personal feuds. The remaining people are forced to live off the spoils/chaos of war. The story focuses on two women, an ageing woman and her young daughter-in-law. They have found their own niche in the chaos – to murder and rob any passing soldiers fatigued from battle. The armour and weaponry gained is bartered for food. The bodies disposed of in a dark, ominous hole. One day the son's companion returns, disrupting the bloody routine of the women's lives. The darkness of the hole pervades the subsequent events.

Onibaba is primarily a drama concerning the inter-relationships between the three protagonists. The horror component is less explicit. It exists in the film's atmosphere, spreading outward from the hole, and manifesting in the ‘supernatural' events that gradually unfold. The repeated shots of grasses blowing in the wind, the crows that have picked clean the bodies in the hole, and the expressionistic music add to the dark ambience.


Of the four film types mentioned initially, Onibaba is, by far, closet in spirit to the films of Akira Kurosawa. The medieval setting, the samurai, the sharp b/w cinematography, are all reminiscent (and I assume influenced by) Kurosawa films such as Seven Samurai and The Hidden Fortress. But in such films the main characters (and samurai) are typically people of honour and decency. The characters in Onibaba are their antithesis. No one is honourable or moral; all have been corrupted by the war. Butchery, theft, deceit and exploitation (note how the man gets a much better deal from the trader than the women) are commonplace. The samurai are referred to as warmongers and murderers rather than men of chivalry.

The protagonists lead a monotonous life of scavenging, eating, sleeping and daily chores. The only respite from this materialises in the form of sex. The films attitude towards sex and nudity is refreshingly mature compared to Western films of the same period. The exception being the black circle censoring the woman's crotch in one scene. Apparently the Japanese censors have a continuing problem with pubic hair (on film that is!). The film explores the themes of desire, repression (from both religion and society), the loss of desirability due to ageing, and sexual frustration/denial. At one point sexual frustration culminates in an act of dendrophilia (note the tree used is dead and barren).

The inherent social and personal malaise of the story takes form towards the finale. The moral bankruptcy of the characters is epitomised in the films final line of dialogue. The hole wins.

Время: 98 мин
Дисков: 1 шт
Video format: DivX 5
Audio format: MPEG Layer 3 (MP3)
Разрешение: 672x432
Размер: 699 Mb
Перевод: Закадровый перевод 1 голос" Subtitles="English
Субтитры: English
Постер: http://www.movies.nnov.ru/covers/onibaba.jpg

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