- Release Date
- April, 29th, 1983
- Running Time
- 131 min
- Screening Format
[ Directed by ]
[ Cast ]
[ Staff ]
- FUKAZAWEA Shichiro ── Original Story
- IMAMURA Shohei ── Screenplay
- IKEBE Shin-ichiro ── Music
- TOCHIZAWA Masao ── Cinematography
- IWAKI Yasuo ── Lighting
[ Production Company ]
TOEI, Imamura Production
[ Distributor (Japan) ]
[ Story ]
Winter. A small snow-covered village in the Shinshu mountain range -- on the outskirts of this village is the house of Orin (nekko, or "the trunk house").
Orin turned 69 this year, but her teeth are still strong and she still works vibrantly. However, Orin is approaching the winter of her Narayama-mairi, her voyage to Mt. Narayama. This is the law of the village. It dictates that in the winter of a villager's seventieth year, he or she must go to Narayama to ensure the future of their poor village, and this is the strongest belief of the villagers with respect to the mountain god. However, this law is unbelievably cruel. Going to the mountain means going to one's death, and though it means becoming a servant of the god, it is still tremendously painful for the son who accompanies them, who cares for his mother or father. When the time came for Orin's husband Rihei to take his mother to Narayama, he succumbed to his pain and went missing.
Spring. Orin has not even the slightest fear about going to Narayama. She is more concerned about the fate of her widower son Tatsuhei. He has three children (Kesa, Tome, and Yuki), and a younger brother Risuke, who is reviled by the villagers as "the stinker". They comprise the nekko family.
One day, a salt merchant comes from the opposite village saying that a woman there would be Tatsuhei's second wife. Orin is delighted. She can now go to Narayama with peace of mind. However, there is another concern. Despite her age, her teeth are still quite strong.
Around this time, Tatsuhei hears Tada from the Zeniya family singing and listens attentively.
Old Orin hides in the shed
She has thirty-three teeth like a demon
Tatsuhei interrogates Tada, and is surprised to learn that Kesa was the one who started singing the song. He is even more shocked when Tada mentions the soon-to-be-70 Orin's journey to Narayama. When Tatsuhei finds Kesa, he scolds him, "No supper tonight!" But that evening at their small dining table Kesa declares that he will make Matsu from Ameya his wife. "Fool! No supper for you!" screams Tatsuhei, and he throws his chopsticks at Kesa.
In the summer, on the day of Narayama-mairi, Tama from the opposite village comes to be Tatsuhei's wife. Orin takes a liking to Tama and treats her to food at a festival. Orin then promises to teach Tama her secrets for catching fish before she goes to the mountain, then she goes into a shed, strikes her teeth against a stone and breaks them.
That night, Risuke, stimulated by Tatsuhei and Tama's first night together, steals into the yard of Arayashiki to satisfy his urges with their dog Shiro. There he hears the Arayashiki father telling his daughter about his last will.
Oei, after I die, make love to every man in the village just once.
Early autumn. Matsu, her belly grown, is living in the nekko house.
Orin wakes and notices Matsu leaving the house with potatoes. When she returns Tatsuhei is about to drop her off a cliff, but he stops when he thinks of the baby in her womb.
Some days later, hearing cries of "Narayama's punishment," in the dark of night, the nekko household runs outside. The father of the Ameya house had been caught trying to steal bean cake from the home of Yakimatsu. Stealing food is a serious crime in this village. The Ameya house is searched and all of their food confiscated. Being the second in the Ameya line to be forced to apologize to Narayama, their bloodline is considered to be thieves.
The villagers spend the next day unable to concentrate on their work. That night several men go on a raid. The Ameya family are tied up with ropes and buried alive. Matsu is among them.
The Arayashiki father passes away and Oei begins to carry out his will but skips Risuke. Tatsuei, seeing the enraged Risuke beating the horse Haramatsu in the stable, comes up with the idea of giving him Tama to sleep with him for a night, but Tama does not agree to this. Orin also becomes worried and asks Okane to take Tama's place.
Late autumn. The leaves have fallen and a faraway mountain range shows signs of snow. Orin announces that she will go to the mountain tomorrow, and she teaches Tama her secret to catching fish. That evening a ceremony for her journey to the mountain begins. People who have been to the mountain teach her the way.
First, don't speak in the mountain.
Second, leave your home unnoticed by anybody.
Then in the stable, Okane gives her body to Risuke to fulfill Orin's final request.
It is a sleepless night. Orin opens her shutter to noise and finds Mata from the Zeniya house crying. Mata had run away because he was scared to go to Narayama.
"Mata, the god of the mountain wouldn't like this," warns Orin. "Don't offend him, otherwise he'll reject you."
The night advances, and Tatsuhei, shivering, sets off tortured on his journey to Narayama. Tama secretly sees them off from behind. Tatsuhei climbs a hill, crosses a bridge, and takes the road of the Seven Valleys toward Narayama. He feels conflicted, but Orin, settled in her heart, utters not a word.
Narayama's peak is bald, strewn with bones as white as snow and black crows flying about. The look of death has already been revealed on Orin's face. Tatsuhei, despite the cold, is dripping with sweat as he clings to Orin, but Orin pushes Tatsuhei off.
When Tatsuhei descends to the Seven Valleys, he sees Tada from Zeniya kicking Mata down the mountain and stops in his tracks, dumbfounded. But then he notices that snow has started falling, and Tatsuhei fiercely reverses course and climbs the mountain.
Mom! You're lucky, the snow has come on the day you came here. Orin silently nods.
Tatsuhei returns to the nekko house and Kesa, drunk, sings, "Grandma is lucky. Exactly like in the song."
Otori from the salt merchant's house is lucky
It's snowing on the day she goes to the mountain
We see that Kesa's padded kimono and Tama's obi had both belonged to Orin. The snow keeps falling, and the village is covered.
【Quoted from the official English synopsis of Toei Company, Ltd.】
[ Film Festivals, Awards ]
1983 Cannes Film Festival, Palme d'Or
2017 Cannes Film Festival, Cannes Classics
[ Contact (International) ]
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