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Kaneto Shindo, one of Japan s most prolific directors, received his biggest international success with the release of Onibaba [The Demoness] in 1964. Its depiction of violence and graphic sexuality was unprecedented at the time of release. Shindo managed - through his own production company Kindai Eiga Kyokai - to bypass the strict, self - regulated Japanese film industry and pave the way for such films as Yasuzo Masumura s Mojuu (1969) and Nagisa Oshima s In the Realm of the Senses (1976).
Onibaba [or Onibabaa, in its alternate spelling] is set during a brutal period in history, a Japan ravaged by civil war between rivaling shogunates. Weary from combat, samurai are drawn towards the seven - foot high susuki grass fields to hide and rest themselves, whereupon they are ambushed and murdered by a ruthless mother (Nobuko Otowa) and daughter - in - law (Jitsuko Yoshimura) team. The women throw the samurai bodies into a pit, and barter their armour and weapons for food. When Hachi (Kei Sato), a neighbour returning from the wars, brings bad news, he threatens the women s partnership.
Erotically charged and steeped in the symbolism and superstition of its Buddhist and Shinto roots, Kaneto Shindo s Onibaba is in part a modern parable on consumerism, a study of the destructiveness of sexual desire and - filmed within a claustrophobic sea of grass - one of the most striking and unique films of Japan's last half - century, winning Kiyomi Kuroda the Blue Ribbon Award for Cinematography in 1965. The memorably frenetic drumming soundtrack was scored by long - time Shindo collaborator Hikaru Hayashi. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to presentOnibaba for the first time on Blu - ray in the UK.
SPECIAL NEW BLU-RAY EDITION:
- Gorgeous new 1080p HD transfer
- Full - length director s audio commentary by director Kaneto Shindo and the stars of the film, Kei Sato, and Jitsuko Yoshimura
- Video introduction by Alex Cox
- 8mm footage (40 - minutes) shot on location by lead actor Kei Sato
- Optional English subtitles
- Original theatrical trailer
- Production stills and promotional art gallery
- 36 - PAGE BOOKLET with a new essay by Doug Cummings, an English translation of the original short Buddhist fable that inspired the film and a statement from writer/director Kaneto Shindo about why he made Onibaba