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The Bonomiya familys women are the protectors of the Inugami (evil spirits). If the Bonomiya women fail to keep watch over the spirits or worse, if they decide to use them for revenge then the Inugami will run wild in the village looking for blood. Middle-aged family member Miki leads a lonely life as a traditional papermaker in a remote mountain village. When Miki falls for the handsome new schoolteacher, Akira, her youthful appearance stirs rumors and family problems. But when unexpected tragedy strikes, suspicion and strange events upset the calm community. An eerie fog cloaks the village, but it can no longer hide the secrets of Mikis past . . .
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it becomes one of the best films I watched as time passed.
It was actually the third time watching this film the beauty and sadness of the story hit me deep
and it is now my best favorite movie.
Middle-aged Miki Bonomiya (Yuki Amami) has lived all her life in a sleepy, small Japanese village, burying her tragic youth. But all that changes when teacher Akira Nutahara (Atsuro Watabe) arrives at the village, and the two quickly fall in love. Suddenly Miki is acting oddly, and strange deaths are occurring around the village -- supposedly by the "inugami," dog spirits that the Bonomiya women control.
Miki is blamed for these, and the village begins to turn against the Bonomiyas -- and the Bonomiyas start to turn against each other, with madness and suicide. Akira is desperate to get his beloved out of the village, but can he fight against the entire Bonomiya clan -- and against the shocking connection he has with Miki?
From the opening shots, you can tell that "Inugami" will be memorable and beautiful -- sweeping shots of misty forests, sun-baked fields, a family with a poisonous core, and a long line of woman who have kept the lethal dog spirits under control. Not to mention Japanese folklore, and a bit of Greek tragedy thrown in for good measure (Sophocles, particularly).
Unfortunately, the scriptwriters seem to have been on crack. They mix in an ancient prophecy, village prejudice, incest, mass suicide, and many tantalizing hints of the supernatural. But they can't make it gel. By the climax, it seems that the story has completely thrown out any pretense of logic. They just go for the dramatic punch, logic be damned.
Many times the story veers toward hints of the supernatural, such as the nebulous inugami, and Miki's existance as a reborn, thousand-year-old "mother." But every time, they chicken out and ignore it. It's as if they wanted to make a supernatural movie, and a family drama; this film is both, and succeeds at being neither one.
Do the inugami exist? If not, what are those ripply things in the woods? If they do, why don't they have an impact on the plot? What is Miki exactly, and why doesn't anyone seem to have noticed her oddities before? Is that prophecy going to come true? What's up with the hunter, and why does he act as he does? They bring up a thousand questions, and don't answer a single one -- or even hint.
Nor does it help that when the film abandons its supernatural theme, then we're back to the incestuous love triangle. The romance between Akira and Miki is apparently supposed to be touching, but it's only creepy. The best characters are actually on the sidelines: Eugene Harada as the kindly Seiji, a pal of Akira's who hopelessly loves Miki; Miki's embittered sister; and a young cousin who wants to escape her stifling family.
While "Inugami" is a beautiful film, with several good actors, the story meanders along before throwing itself out the window. It's a real dog.
This movie is shot with sumptuous, sweeping landscapes to tell a story told in loving detail. Miki’s village is beautifully nestled in the dense, rich forests of pastoral Japan. Below that surface, however, there lies a dark side.
For starters, every once and a while, the camera shots will bend and distort as if the world and the surroundings are going through a psychedelic trip. It is unclear whether this is due to the arrival of an outsider, or just the Inugami acting up again.
These spirits are as unforgiving as the environment in the village. This is a world where persons thought to be possessed with devils are stoned. A world of incantations and spells, the townspeople react with extreme superstition about spirits, ghosts, goblins, and evil presences. Sudden storms, nightmares, sounds coming from nowhere, and hallucinations occur with regular frequency to disturb the pastoral tranquillity of Miki, her family, and those associated with her.
While Miki quietly pursues her profession quietly making home-made paper, she not only watches over the Inugami, but passively observes the world around her. One member of her family is her daughter Tanaku, who early on storms into the house complaining about her husband, Takano. Takanao is frequently garbed in traditional dress and, with Miki, observes the Ancient rites. He also physically assaults Tanaku, sometimes brazenly in front of Miki, and fools around with other women in the village on the pretense of observing these rites. Miki does nothing but stoically admonish her daughter. This stoicism comes from Miki’s belief that she, her decedents and progeny, are cursed by the Inugami.
Then Akira, the young new schoolteacher arrives in town and. People soon start disappearing, freak accidents occur, people unexpectedly die, and even computers unaccountably freeze and melt down — and the townspeople blame Akira.
This film is hypnotic and mesmerizing. This movie is not strictly speaking a love story, although Miki and Akira do have an affair. This movie is more about the violence inherent in folk religions, and perhaps in all religions, at least those which profess to hold the ultimate truth or are grounded in superstition or myth (which is probably all of them). Inugami holds the same impact and covers the same territory as “The Wicker Man.” Both movies deal with a part of human experience rarely encountered, but never discussed.The clash of cultures — modern vs. ancient — permeates this movie.
There is enough going on in this movie to watch it several times and get something new out of it each time. Cannot recommend it more.
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