Tuesday, 25 November 2008

I receive an electronic mail message!

Brian J. Showers, an American in Dublin (which should be a musical) was moved to contact me re: the classic movie I mentioned earlier, downstairs on this blog. 


I recently rewatched KWAIDAN as well for my annual Halloween film list. Here's my short write up:

"3. KWAIDAN, Directed by Masaki Kobayashi, Japan, 1964

"Kwaidan is a portmanteau featuring four folkloric ghost stories: In 'The Black Hair' a samurai attempts to return to his faithful wife whom he has deserted for power and fortune. 'The Woman of the Snow' tells the story of a young woodcutter who meets a mysterious woman who 
commands him not to speak a word of her existence to anyone. In 'Hoichi the Earless' a blind bard sings a song of an epic naval battle to the ghosts of the dead soldiers who fought in it. And finally, 'In a Cup of Tea' is a tale about a man who is visited by ghostly stranger whose image he keeps seeing in a teacup.

"At the time it was produced in 1964, Kwaidan was the most expensive movie made by a Japanese studio: the supernatural genre was shown genuine reverence and given a budget to match. These tales, based on adaptations of Japanese folklore by Lafcadio Hearn, are simple ghost stories. And director Masaki Kobayashi tells them with sombre beauty, a languid style and a jarringly minimal soundtrack. Kwaidan is three hours long and given the stories' narrative simplicities, has a tendency to drag. But nevertheless it remains a rewarding and haunting piece of cinema for those who are patient enough to investigate."


I hadn't realised Hearn was nearly blind. Until I noticed that in most photographs of him, he nearly always has his head half turned. In some where he is facing more straight on than in most, you can see that one of his eyes seems to protrude slightly.Apparently Hearn was injured as a child during some school sport. I've always wondered if he was tended by Sir William Wilde, who was a practicing ophthalmologist in Dublin at the time!

I have a biography of Hearn written by my friend Paul Murray. It's apparently hard to come by. I haven't read it yet, but it's on The Big Pile.

Incidentally, I live a few footsteps away from Hearn's childhood home here in Dublin when he was raised by his great aunt.



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