Tuesday, October 5, 2010

ONIBABA (1964) - a Buddhist parable is transformed into a bleak fairy tale and regurgitated as round-eye haiku

wasteland of tall reeds
hidden from society
rests on edge of hell

mother and daughter
scrounge like rats, empathy blank
life amongst abyss

social rot extends
subjugates in absentia
metaphor as myth

bodies stripped of worth
scraps traded for sustenance
now meat for the maw

purgatory hole
trash pit of bones, barren path
wayward souls consumed

triangle of lust
transform feral animals
to humans debased

demon head forebodes
in presence, not deed nor speech,
jealous tragedy


Woman in the Dunes, released the same year, might be the ying to Onibaba’s yang (or the yang to the ying; I forget which is which). The former is about a scientist that ends up trapped in a sand hole with a woman, and the latter is about a mother and daughter that are effectively trapped in a marsh surrounding a deep hole, and a soldier enters into their world. Both feature an erotically charged dynamic amongst a tactile wilderness, all enveloped in a tragic existential pall. However, Woman in the Dunes takes place in the desert and revolves around a stuffy, respectable member of society, while Onibaba takes place in a wetland area, featuring a feral mother and daughter at the lowest strata of society. Both are forced to explore somewhat similar territory, an erotic tragedy of the earth, but from opposite ends of the human race.

P.S. Written as part of the Final Girl Film Club. Here is Stacie Ponder's review, which actually explains the plot and stuff, which I was too lazy to do.

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