Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Ballad of Narayama
Based on the novel by Shichiro Fukuzawa, Narayama Bushiko is a haunting and deeply affecting portrait of love and humanity struggling against the rigidity of tradition, obedience, and sense of duty. Using jarring, anachronistic imagery and unusually stylized artificial lighting, Keisuke Kinoshita presents a relevant examination of the pervasive national ideology of wartime Japan that underscores the dichotomous, and often self-destructive conflict between personal conscience and social conformity: the idiosyncratic fusion of traditional (kabuki) and modern (film) dramatic media; the perversion of cultural and moral norms within the primitive society (disrespect for elders, disposability of life, regression of human logic into base instincts for survival); and the incongruous, final shot that juxtaposes ancient and contemporary images to evoke timelessness, passage, and transience. Inevitably, Narayama Bushiko becomes a haunting allegory on the perils of blind allegiance, martyrdom, and repression - a humanist reflection of the profound introspection, cultural erosion, and ideological ambivalence of postwar Japan.