The Ballad of Narayama
Directed by Shohei Imamura
That was absolutely disgusting. I knew this would be a bleak examination of village life, but I did not realize how gross this movie was actually going to be. I am still not sure it was ultimately worth it.
The film takes place in a small village in 19th century Japan. According to the village custom, once a person turns 70, they are taken up the mountain by relatives and left to die. Orin is a sixty-nine year old matriarch who knows her time is coming. She spends the next year "helping" her family, which seems to translate to finding women for her sons to have sex with. The film is also interrupted with scenes of animals copulating. Ever wonder what moth sex looks like?
I am sure this film is praised in many circles for its unflinching look at the cruelty of village life. But I don't know if that is really anything to celebrate. Am I a better person for having witnessed a smelly virgin have sex with a dog? Even that isn't as disturbing as the constant rape and murder of women that we were forced to watch yet again. At this point in The Book, that is about par for the course. But I still will always complain about it.
The practice of euthanizing elderly people is known in Japanese as "ubasute." Apparently, it was done in times of drought or starvation although it was never a common custom.