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Ballad of the Narayama


Release Date
June, 1st, 1958
Running Time
98 min
Screening Format

[ Directed by ]

[ Cast ]

[ Staff ]

[ Production Company ]


[ Distributor (Japan) ]


[ Story ]

69 years old Orin lives with her widowed son and three grandchildren. As the Narayama Festival approaches the villagers are heard singing the ballad of the hills which reminds all that with each year, one grows older and the time approaches when one must "pay respects" to the gods of Narayama. Orin is also preparing herself to go to the hills to meet the gods when the young widow, Tama, is selected to become the bride of her son and stepmother to her grandchildren.
The poverty-stricken villagers considered an old person with good teeth a burden because they betoken a good appetite and Orin's next move was to slip into the shed and crack her healthy teeth with a mill-stone.
It was believed that one was fortunate if it snowed on the day one was taken to Narayama, in the sense that it probably served to shorten the period of misery and starvation which preceded death on the mountain.
A miserly neighbor has a seventy years old father, Mata, who, despite his years, shows no signs of going "to the hills."
One month following the arrival of the new wife, Orin's grandchild, Kesakichi, brings home a young girl named Matsu, who has become pregnant.
On a cold day just before the dawn of the new year, Orin tells her son that it is time for her to go. Reluctantly he carries the old woman on his back and starts for the mountain where he abandons her with food for only a single meal.
On his way down the mountain, the son sees the miserly one pushing his father over a cliff. He dashes forward, a short scuffle ensues and the miser also falls to his death.
As the son is about to head back to the village, snow begins to fall. He immediately turns back
to call out to his mother that she is indeed "fortunate," but Orin just motions him to return home.

【Quoted from Unijapan Film Quarterly 1958 1.2】

[ Contact (International) ]

International Sales & Licensing

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tel: +81-3-5550-1623
fax: +81-3-5550-1654

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