“Onibaba: Women at War”

Friend of the Gutter Kimberly Lindbergs writes about Kaneto Shindo’s anti-war horror classic, Onibaba. “The film begins with a vicious murder. While making their way through a dense field of tall grass, two fugitive samurai are impaled on spears by hidden aggressors. Their killers are women who strip the corpses before dumping them in a deep, dark hole that lays agape eagerly awaiting more cadavers. The hole is representative of many things in this multilayered fable including the hungry mouths of the two women who kill samurai in order to sell their armor and weapons for food. These starving women are a cheerless middle-aged mother (Nobuko Otowa) and her feral daughter-in-law (Jitsuko Yoshimura) who anxiously await the return of a son and husband. The missing man is a reluctant soldier forced to fight alongside his male neighbor (Kei Satō) in a war no one seems to understand or sympathize with. When the neighbor suddenly returns alone sharing tales of futile fighting and botched battles, the women are devastated.”

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