Ballad of Narayama movie review (1958) | Roger Ebert
2019-12-04 18:49

 |  Roger EbertMarch 7, 2013   |  

 | 罗杰·艾伯特,2013年3月7日|  

What a space it opens up between its origins in the kabuki style and its subject of starvation in a mountain village! The village enforces a tradition of carrying those who have reached the age of 70 up the side of mountain and abandoning them there to die of exposure.


"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens up between its origins in the kabuki style and its subject of starvation in a mountain village! The village enforces a tradition of carrying those who have reached the age of 70 up the side of mountain and abandoning them there to die of exposure.


Keisuke Kinoshita's 1958 film tells its story with deliberate artifice, using an elaborate set with a path beside a bubbling brook, matte paintings for the backgrounds, mist on dewey evenings, and lighting that drops the backgrounds to black at dramatic moments and then brings up realistic lighting again. Some of its exteriors use black foregrounds and bloody red skies; others use grays and blues. As in kabuki theater, there is a black-clad narrator to tell us what's happening.

Keisuke Kinoshita在1958年的电影中用精心设计的手法讲述了这个故事,在一条潺潺的小溪旁有一条小径,用哑光画作为背景,在杜威夜晚的雾中,灯光在戏剧性的时刻将背景降为黑色,然后再次用灯光点亮现实。它的一些外观使用黑色的前景和血红色的天空;其他一般使用灰色和蓝色。在歌舞伎剧院,有一个黑衣叙述者告诉我们发生了什么。



This artifice supports a story that contains great emotional charge. Kinuyo Tanaka plays Orin, a 70-year-old widow whose resignation in the face of her traditional fate is in stark contrast with the behavior of her neighbor Mata (Seiji Miyaguchi), who protests violently against his destiny. Their family attitudes are similarly opposed; while Orin's son Tatsuhei (Teiji Takahashi) loves his mother and doesn't have any desire to carry her up the mountainside, Mata's family has already cut off his food, and he wanders the village as a desperate scavenger; Orin invites him in and offers him a bowl of rice, which be gobbles hungrily.

这个技巧帮助展现了一个包含巨大情感负担的故事。田中由纪子饰演的奥林是一位70岁的寡妇,她向自己的传统命运妥协了,她辞职了。这与邻居宫口静二的行为形成鲜明对比,后者强烈反抗自己的命运。他们的家庭态度也同样相反,虽然奥林的儿子Tatsuhei(Taji Takahashi)爱他的母亲,不想把她带上山腰,但宫口静二的家人已经切断了她的食物,她作为一个绝望的拾荒者在村子里游荡;奥林邀请她进来,并给她一碗米饭,她狼吞虎咽地吃了起来。

In contrast with her resignation and her son's reluctance to carry out her sentence, Orin's vile grandson Kesakichi (Danshi Ichikawa) can't wait to be done with the old woman, and begins singing a song mocking the fact that she retains, at 70, all 33 of of her original teeth. This is taken up by the villagers, who materialize as a vindictive chorus, their song implying she kept her teeth because of a deal with demons. Eager to qualify for her doom, Orin bites down hard on a stone and when they see her again her mouth reveals bloody stumps.


This harsh imagery contrasts with the way the film is structured around song and dance. Although presented in the kabuki style, it isn't based on an actual kabuki play but on a novel. Kinoshita is correct, I believe, in presenting his story in this stylized way; his form allows it to become more fable than narrative, and thus more bearable.


His sets and backdrops reflect he changing seasons with lush beauty: Spring, summer, the red leaves of autumn, then the wintry snows on the slopes of Narayama. On the mountaintop, blackbirds perch on snowy crags as the camera uses lateral moves to sweep across the desolate landscape. Finally depositing his mother in an empty place on the mountain, Tatsuhei greets the snow with relief: She will freeze more quickly. This he can sing only to himself, because the journey up the mountain has three strict rues: (1) you must not talk after starting up Narayama; (2) be sure no one sees you leave in the morning; (3) never look back. His adherence is in contrast with the adventures of the fearful neighbor Mata, who appears soon after bound head and foot, dragged protesting by his son ("Don't do this!").




Orin's goodness and resignation are at the center of the story. In particuar, notice her kind welcome for Tama (Yuko Mochizuki), a 40-year-old widow she has decided will be the ideal new wife for her widower son. Known for her ability to catch trout when no one else can, she leads Tama through the forest on a foggy night and reveals a secret place beneath a rock in the brook where a trout is always to be found. This secret was never revealed to her first daughter-in-law. She even wants to die before her first grandchild arrives. She wants to rid the village from a hungry mouth.

奥林的善良和顺从是故事的中心。特别值得注意的是,她对塔玛(Yuko Mochizuki)表示了亲切的欢迎,她已经决定40岁的寡妇将是她鳏夫儿子理想的新妻子。她以能在别人无法捕捉到鳟鱼而闻名,在一个雾蒙蒙的夜晚,她带领塔玛穿过森林,在小溪的一块岩石下发现了一个总是能找到鳟鱼的秘密地方。这个秘密从未透露给她的第一个儿媳。她甚至想在第一个孙子到来之前死去,她想使这个村庄摆脱饥饿的困境。

Some will find Orin's behavior strange. So it is. Perhaps, in the years soon after World War Two, she is intended in praise of the Japanese ability to present acceptance in the face of the appalling. You can attach any set of parallels to Kinoshite's parable and make them work, but that seems to fit.


Keisuke Kinoshita (1912-1998) is of the same generation as Akira Kurosawa. Saying that ideas sprang quickly into his mind, he moved between periods and genres, and made 42 films in the first 23 years of his career. He was immediately attracted to motion pictures; a film was shot in his home town when he was in high school and he ran away to a studio in Kyoto. His family made him return home, but later dropped its opposition to his career plans. Without a college education, he started humbly as a set photographer, and worked his way up, sending in one screenplay after another to the studio chief.


He made dramas, musicals, thrillers, musicals, anything, but he never made another film like "The Ballad of Narayama." In its matter-of-fact juxtaposition of fate and art, it leaves an indelible impression. Tatsuhei's second bride Tama tells him: "When we turn 70, we'll go together up Narayama."


"The Ballad of Narayama" is a new DVD release in the Criterion Collection. Thanks to Wikipedia for some of the research in this article.


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