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Japan, 1968
Directed by Kaneto Shindo
Starring Nobuko Otowa, Kiwako Taichi,  Kichiemon Nakamura
Approx. 99 min. 35mm.

Rōnin on the run calmly munch rice while their comrades brutally attack two women and then torch their farm; samurai riding to the rescue of a damsel in distress in the dead of night at the looming Rajomon gate turn up dead with their throats ripped out; an erstwhile farm boy, back from the wars with the head of a fearsomely giant warrior, has a new task: eliminate the apparent ghost! But those two women he meets look a lot like... Adapting from a Japanese folk tale, astringent social critic Kaneto Shindo (THE ISLAND, ONIBABA) blends the sound of rustling grass; the look of an ominously foggy bamboo forest (seen in strikingly high contrast b&w photography); the blackest of black cats in close-up; the subtlest of special effects (the forest slipping sideways behind the mansion in the grove); a spirit's slow-motion acrobatics; softly falling snow covering a staring corpse amidst a burned-out ruin; the hypnotizing repetition of events; Noh Theater-like stylization of action; alternating moments of jarring music and utter silence; a genuinely tender and sensuous reunion of lovers; the ultimate giri-ninjo (honor/humanity) conflict; and a duel with a vengeful spirit in a locked room; to achieve a simultaneously creepy, romantic, and tragic atmosphere, as well as a searing critique of the entire samurai ethos. With Shindo's longtime collaborator and companion, the great Nobuko Otowa, as the mother — or is she? "Shindo's ability to construct a haunting atmosphere through visual and aural details — a silent, slow-motion leap over a pool of water, unexpected character entrances and exits, off-screen meows, creeping fog and billowing curtains remains powerfully effective." – Doug Cummings


“The blend of theatrical-FX flourishes (notably the specters' eerie gliding through shadowy halls) and cynical outlook on humanity feels remarkably in tune with the last few waves of supernatural J-horror.”
– David Fear, Time Out

Film Forum