Ballad of Orin



IMDb Rating 7.5 10 555

Plot summary

October 14, 2022 at 12:08 PM


Masahiro Shinoda

Top cast

1.06 GB
Japanese 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 58 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by baepj 8 / 10

A powerful film that deserves to be seen by more film lovers.

Japan is one of the world's more rigid cultures and its great filmmakers have created equally great art by telling stories of men and women who resist a tyrannous culture, whether embodied in the shogunate, the military, or any other area of national life. Unlike American films, which usually depict a victorious resister, Japanese films usually show the resistance ending in defeat--if there is a victory it is a moral one.

Orin, a blind traveling musician who is expected to remain celebate, is sexually violated and is expelled from her group. An outcast, she ultimately links up with a young man who is opposed to Japanese militarism. Although she is "available" to him, he will not take advantage of her, as he resists a culture where hypocrisy reigns and where women (and men, also) are expected to yield to superior force. He is ultimately destroyed and she takes her own life.

Please excuse any inaccuracies in my account; I last saw this film more than twenty years ago. I felt then, as I do now, that its humanistic perspective connected it to many other great Japanese films, such as the Kobayashi trilogy and Mizoguchi's "Sansho the Bailiff." It is my sincere hope that it will eventually appear on videocassette or DVD.

Reviewed by phawalsh 10 / 10

Available in DVD (non-US format)

This is in my top 10 list of films. This is a beautiful, moving film. It is also probably one of the most tragic films I have seen. It got an inexplicably tepid review from Vincent Canby when it premiered in NYC back in 1977 or 1978, which perhaps explains why it was never widely distributed in the US. The film takes place during the first decades of the 20th century, following the story of Orin, blind from birth, from childhood on. The film is told largely from her perspective, from a woman's perspective, which is rare in film, especially Japanese films. The other reviewer is mistaken - she does not take her own life, but he is entirely correct that the film deserves a much, much wider audience than it has received, at least in this country.

More than 20 years after seeing this movie, and having searched for it for almost as long, I finally obtained a decent DVD with English subtitles from (Hong Kong). It is listed there as Hanare Goze Orin. It's rather expensive, but worth it, in my opinion. You'll need a region-free player.

Reviewed by Steven_Harrison 9 / 10

Stunning Work By Japanese New Wave Master

Goodness, easily one of my favorite Shinoda films and a favorite Japanese New Wave film in general, this one is definitely work seeking out. Iwashita Shima (Shinoda's wife) plays Orin, a "goze" Goze were specifically blind itinerant singers, traveling alone or in groups, who initially became popular around the Edo period. The last of the goze died this past April (2005) and at one time there were around a thousand goze in Japan. The film lets you know early on that (in this time period) blind women can either do this or be prostitutes (the latter of which is an important difference, as sexual relations is an expellable offense in the group.) This is turn of the century Japan, during the end of the Meiji era while the Russo-Japanese war was going on, and you're made well aware of the time period during the film (it struck me as a feminist critique of modern society as well as a drama.) Orin's love affairs, some undesired, fill a relatively austere film with bursts of sexuality. Her love life is eventually a tragic one, however, and the film does not pull any punches. The full screen cinematography is stunning, with each shot flattened out into a artful expression. The music of this film plays a large part (scored like almost all of Shinoda's films by Takemitsu Toru) and is unforgettable. Orin and her shamisen stayed in my mind for some time. Highly highly recommended.

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1 Comment

duwen profile
duwen October 14, 2022 at 12:36 pm

Thanks for this depressing masterpiece!