You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Aragami

An attractive, neo-classical samurai/demon film, "Aragami" takes its own sweet time to establish a tense, creepy situation before erupting into ritualized swordplay. Pic confirms the talents of director Ryuhei Kitamura, who studied film in Australia before returning to Japan to make cult items like "Versus" (2000) and "Alive" (2001).

With:
Samurai - Takao Osawa Aragami - Masaya Kato Woman - Kanae Uotani

An attractive, neo-classical samurai/demon film, “Aragami” takes its own sweet time to establish a tense, creepy situation before erupting into ritualized swordplay. Modest in scope but handsome and clever, pic confirms the talents of director Ryuhei Kitamura, who studied film in Australia before returning to Japan to make cult items like “Versus” (2000) and “Alive” (2001). “Aragami” likewise has cult potential and doubtless a lengthy video shelf life.

Two badly wounded samurai arrive at a remote mountain temple. They’re taken in by a kindly host (Masaya Kato) and a woman servant (Kanae Uotani), but one soon succumbs to his wounds. The survivor (Takao Osawa) recovers, but is unable to leave because, he is informed, the only way out is blocked by the enemy’s forces.

The host invites the samurai to share a bottle of wine. He tells his guest about a legendary goblin called Tengu who haunts the mountain and its surrounding forests. He says Tengu’s real name is Aragami, and that he eats the flesh of men; the host then reveals that he is Aragami.

The guest at first laughs off this disturbing information, until he is told the reason for his speedy recovery is that the food he ate was the flesh of his dead friend.

These lengthy preliminaries, which occupy about an hour, are handled in a formal, classical style, with careful framing, dim lighting, plenty of shadows and splotches of bright colors. But when at last the samurai and the monster cross swords, director Kitamura introduces a vivid strobe-lighting effect which shifts the pic into something far more modern.

Although the conclusion is a bit anti-climatic, small-scale film generally impresses with its controlled visuals, and with the skill at which the director turns the screws. However, some of the dialogue, as translated into English subtitles, is distinctly anachronistic, and the suspense is constantly undermined by a very grim sense of humor.

Both Osawa and Kato seem quite comfortable in their roles and easily carry the film.

Pic is beautifully photographed by Takumi Furuya on a simple set designed by Yuji Hayashida and Norifumi Ataka, but the occasionally intrusive music score by Nobuhiko Morino sounds a jarring note.

Aragami

Japan

Production: A Duel Partners presentation of a Napalm Film Studio 3 production. (International sales: Micott, Tokyo.) Produced by Shinya Kawai. Executive producer, Sumiji Miyake. Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura. Screenplay, Kitamura, Ryuichi Takatsu.

Crew: Camera (color), Takumi Furuya; editor, Shuichi Kakesu; music, Nobuhiko Morino; production designers, Yuji Hayashida, Norifumi Ataka; costume designer, Junko Kobayashi; sound (DTS stereo), Kenji Shibazaki; special effects supervisor, Atsuhiko Tanaka; line producer, Tomotaro Ishikawa; assistant director, Tomohiro Kubo. Reviewed at Sydney Film Festival, June 13, 2003. Running time: 82 MIN.

With: Samurai - Takao Osawa Aragami - Masaya Kato Woman - Kanae Uotani

More Film

  • 'Midnight Runner' Review: A Topical, Unnerving

    San Sebastián Film Review: 'Midnight Runner'

    An attractive, neo-classical samurai/demon film, “Aragami” takes its own sweet time to establish a tense, creepy situation before erupting into ritualized swordplay. Modest in scope but handsome and clever, pic confirms the talents of director Ryuhei Kitamura, who studied film in Australia before returning to Japan to make cult items like “Versus” (2000) and “Alive” […]

  • 'Operation Red Sea' Floated as Hong

    'Operation Red Sea' Floated as Hong Kong's Oscar Contender

    An attractive, neo-classical samurai/demon film, “Aragami” takes its own sweet time to establish a tense, creepy situation before erupting into ritualized swordplay. Modest in scope but handsome and clever, pic confirms the talents of director Ryuhei Kitamura, who studied film in Australia before returning to Japan to make cult items like “Versus” (2000) and “Alive” […]

  • Parity pledge 2018

    San Sebastian Festival Signs Gender Parity Pledge

    An attractive, neo-classical samurai/demon film, “Aragami” takes its own sweet time to establish a tense, creepy situation before erupting into ritualized swordplay. Modest in scope but handsome and clever, pic confirms the talents of director Ryuhei Kitamura, who studied film in Australia before returning to Japan to make cult items like “Versus” (2000) and “Alive” […]

  • Danny DeVito'Donostia Award' photocall, 66th San

    Danny DeVito Receives San Sebastian Donostia Award

    An attractive, neo-classical samurai/demon film, “Aragami” takes its own sweet time to establish a tense, creepy situation before erupting into ritualized swordplay. Modest in scope but handsome and clever, pic confirms the talents of director Ryuhei Kitamura, who studied film in Australia before returning to Japan to make cult items like “Versus” (2000) and “Alive” […]

  • M-appeal Closes Sales On Pair of

    M-appeal Closes Sales on Pair of San Sebastian Titles (EXCLUSIVE)

    An attractive, neo-classical samurai/demon film, “Aragami” takes its own sweet time to establish a tense, creepy situation before erupting into ritualized swordplay. Modest in scope but handsome and clever, pic confirms the talents of director Ryuhei Kitamura, who studied film in Australia before returning to Japan to make cult items like “Versus” (2000) and “Alive” […]

  • Hirokazu Kore-eda on ‘Shoplifters’ Polemics, Shooting

    Hirokazu Kore-eda on ‘Shoplifters’ Polemics, Shooting in France

    An attractive, neo-classical samurai/demon film, “Aragami” takes its own sweet time to establish a tense, creepy situation before erupting into ritualized swordplay. Modest in scope but handsome and clever, pic confirms the talents of director Ryuhei Kitamura, who studied film in Australia before returning to Japan to make cult items like “Versus” (2000) and “Alive” […]

  • San Sebastian: Natalia Meschaninova On ‘Core

    San Sebastian: Natalia Meschaninova on ‘Core of the World,’ Inhibited Masculinity

    An attractive, neo-classical samurai/demon film, “Aragami” takes its own sweet time to establish a tense, creepy situation before erupting into ritualized swordplay. Modest in scope but handsome and clever, pic confirms the talents of director Ryuhei Kitamura, who studied film in Australia before returning to Japan to make cult items like “Versus” (2000) and “Alive” […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content