Posts Tagged ‘ jitsuko yoshimura ’

Buddha’s Punishment: Onibaba

OnibabaIf you’ve seen A League of Their Own and can imagine that film’s setting transposed to fourteenth-century Japan and the womens’ wartime occupations from professional baseball players to samurai-killers, you’re coming close to Onibaba, a Japanese film from 1964 so strange and unsettling that there still doesn’t seem to be a consensus on it. The violence is grisly, the sex nigh-gratuitous. At its core, however, Onibaba is an almost-tragic tale of three people living through war and poverty, coping in ways that only make matters worse for themselves and each other.

Released at a time when Akira Kurosawa still dominated Japanese cinema, the film is handled artfully by director Kaneto Shindô. He presents us with a poignant blend of heavy, black-and-white atmosphere and genuinely unnerving moments of horror. The tension is high immediately, and maintained throughout. This is due in no small part to Onibaba’s three leads, Nobuko Otowa (the woman for whom the film is named),  Jitsuko Yoshimura (the daughter-in-law), and Kei Satô (Hachi), who returns home from war alone, leaving the woman without a son and the daughter without a husband. The web of sex, murder, and betrayal that ensues makes this a tough one to forget. Continue reading

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