Kuroneko: a ghost story...Masters of Japanese Cinema

Posted on: Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 12:32pm

Masters of Japanese Cinema

Masters of Japanese Cinema shines a light on the rich history of Japanese cinema, from old masters such as Ozu, Akira Kurosawa and Naruse, to modern masters such as Miyazaki, Kore-eda, and Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Curated by Jeff Purdue, a librarian and professor at Western Washington University. In addition to his library duties, he occasionally teaches classes on popular music at Fairhaven College. He is an avid fan and student of Japanese film and popular music.



Showing at Pickford Pickford
  • Tue. 3/12 6 pm

99 minutes • 1968 • Japan • In Japanese w/ English subtitles • Unrated

Film Trailer

PFC's Masters of Japanese Cinema

"A ghost story that's more eerie than unnerving, and often hauntingly lovely." Manohla Dargis, New York Times

In this poetic and atmospheric horror fable, set in a village in war-torn medieval Japan, a malevolent spirit has been ripping out the throats of itinerant samurai. When a military hero is sent to dispatch the unseen force, he finds that he must struggle with his own personal demons as well. From Kaneto Shindo, director of the terror classic Onibaba, Kuroneko (Black Cat) is a spectacularly eerie twilight tale with a shocking feminist angle, evoked through ghostly special effects and exquisite cinematography.

Shindo Kaneto had a long career in the Japanese film industry, starting from humble origins to become one of the premier writers and later directors of the 40s through the 90s.  Shindo died last May at the age of 100!  Of the many films of note that Shindo scripted, perhaps the most memorable is Yoshimura Kozaburo’s A Ball at the Anjo House from 1947, a melodramatic and baroque look at a fading aristocratic family.  As a director, he is probably most famous for Onibaba, an earlier exercise in horror, but he also directed wonderful films like the hard-to-categorize Naked Island and Children of Hiroshima.  Most of these films, Kuroneko included, starred Otowa Nobuko, who was Shindo’s partner and later wife – a wonderful actress, Otowa is an indication of the sheer number of excellent actresses in Japanese film during these years.  Kuroneko is part of the tradition of vengeful spirits horror films in Japan, a tradition that persists to this day (Ringu and Ju-on are famous examples).  This is a gorgeously photographed and haunting film.  Hope to see you all there.

Jeff Purdue


I also want to mention again that in April, we will show Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s remarkable 1986 film, Dust in the Wind.  This film comes with my highest recommendation.  More details to come.

 Finally, I wanted to direct you to a video essay about the Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu.  We featured the Kore-eda film Still Walking three years ago in the first year of the MoJC series; some of you may have been lucky enough to see his most recent film I Wish when that was screened at the Pickford last fall.  Kore-eda is my favorite currently-active Japanese director.  The essay is called “The World according to Kore-eda: How Japan’s modern master revives our taste for everyday life.”  That subtitle exactly expresses my conception of why we value art, and gets to why I personally watch movies, read books, and listen to (and play) music.  I was so moved by this essay when I saw it that I shared it with several friends and thought I would share it with all of you as well.  It takes 10 minutes to watch: I hope you enjoy: http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/sight-sound-magazine/features/video-world-according-koreeda

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