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Onibaba (1964)

Unrated | | Horror | 4 February 1965 (USA)
Two women kill samurai and sell their belongings for a living. While one of them is having an affair with their neighbor, the other woman meets a mysterious samurai wearing a bizarre mask.

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Kichi's Mother
...
Kichi's Wife
Kei Satô ...
Hachi
Jûkichi Uno ...
Samurai General
Taiji Tonoyama ...
Ushi
Someshô Matsumoto ...
Runaway Warrior A
Kentarô Kaji ...
Runaway Warrior B
Hosui Araya ...
Ushi's Follower
Fudeko Tanaka ...
Old Woman
Michinori Yoshida ...
Samurai with Blood
Hiroyoshi Yamaguchi ...
Horse Riding Samurai A
Hiroshi Tanaka ...
Horse Riding Samurai B
Kanzô Uni ...
Horse Riding Samurai C
Nobuko Shimakage ...
Child
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Storyline

After being forcefully inducted as a soldier into war in 14th century Japan, his wife and mother remain living in a swamp. They eke out their living by ambushing worn-out warriors, killing them and selling their belongings to a greedy merchant. The woman comes to mistrust her daughter-in-law who has coupled up with a deserter, and begins to wear a facial mask she has taken from a slain samurai. In this disguise she is at first taken for a demon by her daughter. Written by Michael Jurich <jurich@rummelplatz.uni-mannheim.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The most daring film import ever...from Japan!

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Horror

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

4 February 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Devil Woman  »

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Quotes

Woman: I'm not a demon! I'm a human being!
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Connections

Spoofed in Demons (1985) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Investigation Into Jealousy
9 December 2004 | by (Seoul, Republic of Korea) – See all my reviews

Onibaba is a very well done film, purposefully using black and white cinema to its' advantage in this stunning portrayal of murder, jealousy, and uncontrollable human instinct in a dark period of Japan's history.

A film that aims at portraying the baser side of human nature and investigating human psychology, it is chalk-full of symbolic scenes and sequences. From start to finish it draws you in with the odd imagery and scenery of Japan's rural areas, and even though in this film though there are very few characters and elements that are to it, both visually and literally, through its' minimalism it effectively tells its' story.

This film is both very artistic & symbolic as well as literal and upfront, juxtaposing very graphic, real images of the face of humanity that demand the viewer to infer much throughout the whole of the film. When going into this film, I would say that it is very important for the viewer to think of the film as being very symbolic for the instincts and base nature of mankind, and perhaps even a 'state of nature' portrayal of humanity. If you watch this film with that in mind, it will help with the inferences that one must make to get the most out of this film.

As it stands by itself, aside from the deeper meaning, it is an intriguing story that is a veritable 'slice of life' film in the darker sense, viewing the way that people had to live during a period of war and hard times in feudal Japan. It deals with the hardships that these people face, and their method of survival, in addition to a very human story of jealousy and portrayal with a very interesting culminating point that I did not expect at all. The climax of the film is very much worth the build-up, though at times it seemed to be rather slow.

Overall, a very important piece of film when it comes to the symbolism and techniques employed. Through its' minimalism and black-and-white cinematography we are really treated to a great film that is, of its' own right, an influential and great movie. The cinematography is exceptionally good, especially the use of the reeds and the light at night.

I would recommend this film to anybody with a serious interest in film, as well as anybody who likes a good film that investigates the darker side of human nature.


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