Ballad of Narayama (Narayama bushiko)
Description: In this second, award-winning interpretation of a novel by Shichiro Fukazawa, director Shohei Imamura has inserted some scenes of violence and ritual sex that are shocking and were absent in the first, 1958 film. The story is set in the 19th century in a remote and severely impoverished mountain village in northern Japan. In this fictional society, once the elderly have reached the age of 70 they are brought up Mount Nara, where ancient gods reside, and left to die hopefully blessed by the deities -- this sacrifice will free up food for someone else in the village. Orin (Sumiko Sakamoto) is a 69-year-old grandmother living with one of her sons and three grandchildren and she prepares for her departure for an entire year. Among other activities (not always morally acceptable), she gets a new wife for her oldest son, and then shows the wife where the best place is for catching fish and how to take care of the family. At the top of the mountain, hundreds of skeletons and hungry black crows wait for the next arrivals as the resigned grandmother and one grieving son make the final ascent together, the woman strapped to her son's back. Director Imamura has trenchantly probed the nature of inhumanity and survival in a small, everyman's village. Narayama Bushi Ko won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1983.~ Eleanor Mannikka, All Movie Guide
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