Highly regarded, stunning to look at, influential and essential, the Japanese portmanteau film of ghost stories Kwaidan (1964) is, for me at least, a much easier film to admire than to actually like. The film consists of four completely separate ghost stories and is a thing of beauty. Every shot, every aspect of it is masterful and completely controlled filmmaking from Masaki Kobayashi. Even Kurosawa created nothing more wondrous to look at. On that score alone, the film is plainly remarkable. You’ll see its influence from the very first frames, which, for example, were slavishly reproduced recently for the The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Also, the beauty and the horror content becomes fascinatingly intertwined. But all that to one side, this a slow-moving film that requires a certain patience—and perhaps the right mood.
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