The Ballad of Narayama

Watch The Ballad of Narayama

"Only Time Could Change the Cruelty of Tradition… Only Their Love Could Survive It…"
  • NR
  • 1983
  • 2 hr 10 min
  • 7.8  (9,055)

The Ballad of Narayama is a 1983 Japanese drama film directed by Shohei Imamura. It is based on a novel by Shichiro Fukazawa and set in a small rural village in Japan during the 19th century. The film tells the story of an old woman named Orin, who lives with her son, Tatsuhei, and his family. According to the custom of the village, when a person turns 70, they must be taken to the top of a nearby mountain to die of exposure, as it is believed that this will bring good luck to the village.

The film is divided into four seasons, each representing a different phase of Orin's life. In the first season, we see Orin preparing her own funeral clothes and saying her goodbyes to her family and friends. She is portrayed as a wise and loving woman who accepts her fate and is ready to die. The second season focuses on Tatsuhei's efforts to find a suitable man to marry his son so that they can carry on the family name after Orin's death. The third season deals with the villagers' struggle to survive during a harsh winter and Orin's decision to give up her food to help others. In the final season, we see Orin's journey to the top of the mountain with Tatsuhei as her guide.

The Ballad of Narayama is a powerful and thought-provoking film that deals with themes such as tradition, sacrifice, and the meaning of life. It is a meditation on the inevitability of death and the importance of accepting it as a natural part of life. The film also explores the role of women in traditional Japanese society and the sacrifices they are expected to make for the good of their families and communities.

The film's art direction is stunning, with beautiful cinematography and breathtaking landscapes of the Japanese countryside. The performances are also excellent, particularly Ken Ogata's portrayal of Tatsuhei, who is torn between his love for his mother and his duty to the village. Sumiko Sakamoto is also superb as Orin, conveying both her strength and vulnerability as she prepares for her final journey.

Despite its bleak subject matter, The Ballad of Narayama is also a film that celebrates life and the beauty of nature. There are moments of humor and tenderness that provide a balance to the more somber scenes. The film's final moments are both heartbreaking and uplifting, as Orin comes to a realization about the true meaning of life and death.

In conclusion, The Ballad of Narayama is a masterpiece of Japanese cinema that deserves to be seen by a wider audience. It is a film that inspires reflection and contemplation and is a testament to the power of storytelling to explore universal themes that transcend time and culture.

The Ballad of Narayama is a 1983 drama with a runtime of 2 hours and 10 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.8.

The Ballad of Narayama
Where to Watch The Ballad of Narayama
The Ballad of Narayama is available to watch free on Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, Apple TV and Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent The Ballad of Narayama for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 10 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.8  (9,055)