Cinematic anthropologist extraordinaire Shōhei Imamura won his first Palme d'Or at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival for The Ballad of Narayama (Narayama bushikō), his transcendent adaptation of two classic stories by Shichirō Fukazawa. The film also marked Imamura's third collaboration with celebrated actor Ken Ogata, following the 1979 Vengeance is Mine (Iwao Enokizu) and the 1981 Eijanaika.
In a small village in a remote valley where the harshness of life dictates that survival overrules compassion, elderly widow Orin is approaching her 70th birthday – the age when village law says she must go up to the mythic Mount Narayama to die. But there are several loose ends within her own family to tie up first.
Creating a vividly realised inverse image of "civilised" society with typical directness and black humour, Imamura presents a bracingly unsentimental rumination on mortality and an engrossing study of a community's struggles against the natural elements. Handled with a masterful control and simplicity, moving effortlessly between the comic and the horrific, The Ballad of Narayama is one of the legendary director's deepest, richest works, and ranks among the finest films of its decade.
The Ballad of Narayama will be released on UK dual format (containing DVD and Blu-ray versions) by Eureka as part of the Masters of Cinema series on 24th October 2011 at the RRP of £23.48.
Boasting a new, restored high definition transfer and new and improved English subtitle translation, the set will have the following extras:
- Exclusive new video interview with scholar Tony Rayns;
- Four original Japanese theatrical trailers, including behind-the-scenes footage;
- A lavish booklet featuring an interview with Shōhei Imamura, excerpts from the producer's on-set diary, rare promotional material and stills, and more!