Magino Village—A Tale

1986 / Color / 16mm / 222 min / Japanese with English subtitles

Production Company: Ogawa Productions
Director: Ogawa Shinsuke 
Producer: Fuseya Hiroo
Music: Togashi Masahiro
Photography: Tamura Masaki
Lighting: Sato Yuzuru Sound: Kubota Yukio, Kikuchi Nobuyuki
Art Director: Tatsumi Shiro, Mikado Sadatoshi
Cast: Hijikata Tatsumi, Miyashita Junko, Tamura Takahiro, Kawarazaki Choichiro, Ishibashi Renji, Shimada Shogo

Thirteen years in the making, this is Ogawa Productions' masterpiece. Few films-anywhere, anytime-have rendered history with such complexity. Oral traditions that have circulated in Magino Village for generations are related through storytelling, butoh dance, and fictional recreations. The latter mix famous actors with the villagers, who take the roles of their own ancestors. The filmmakers go so far as to explore the furthest reaches of Magino's history in an archeological dig out in the rice fields. This kind of science adds a perspective that somehow avoids feeling like a cold demystification of the folkloric and spiritual dimensions of village life. The scientific microscopy of rice flowers inspires speechless awe, and when university professors suddenly burst out of the bushes to explain the likely origins of a story, they only end up confirming the reality of Magino's living history. The entirety of this superbly complex film is clocked by the rhythm of the harvest seasons and the sun's arc across the vast Yamagata sky.
[Abé Mark Nornes]

COPYRIGHT:Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee