"A Timeless Classic of Japanese Cinema"
Eureka are releasing a 2K restoration of the full 183 minute cut of Masaki Kobayashi's Japanese ghost story anthology film.
There's no framework. Instead, four unrelated Lafcadio Hearn short stories form the inspiration for the film. The Black Hair sees a swordsman returns home to find his wife may not be all that she seems, in The Woman of the Snow a woodcutter is saved by a supernatural creature but he has to swear never to tell anyone what has happened. (A contemporary version of this story was used as the final segment in the film version of TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE).
Hoichi the Earless is possibly the best known as it's the one stills to illustrate the film tend to be taken from. A blind musician has Buddhist scriptures painted all over his body to protect him from the spirits of the dead. But they forget his ears. Finally there's In a Cup of Tea, in which a ghostly face seen in said beverage leads to a tale the viewer of which is recommended to find his own ending for.
If the horror anthologies of Amicus could be likened to a horror comic (or a Robert Bloch or R Chetwynd-Hayes mini-collection), KWAIDAN is more like walking through a gallery of classic Japanese art, its paintings created with fine brush strokes, attention to the minutest of details, and with the accent very much on subtlety. It's a glorious, beautiful film, featuring large hand-painted backgrounds that emphasise the artificiality of the storytelling technique but never detracting from the delicate stylishness of the endeavour.
Extras include a talking head piece with critic Kim Newman, a 35 minute video essay by David Cairns and Fiona Watson and trailers. Also included in the set is a 100 page perfect bound illustrated collectors book featuring reprints of the Lafcadio Hearn stories, an article on the life and career of Masaki Kobayashi and a lengthy interview with the director.
KWAIDAN is out on Blu-ray in a limited edition set of 3000 from Eureka on Monday 27th April 2020