by Chris MaGee
Ghosts, flashing katana blades and a spray of blood - horror has been the gateway for many Japanese film fans, horror and violence; but what link is there between violence and Japan's Zen Buddhist tradition? This is the questions being put forth by New York City's Japan Society during its screening series "Zen & Its Opposite: Essential (& Turbulent) Japanese Art House". Japan Society Film Programming Director Samuel Jamier has brought together five films that highlight the "bloody and all-too-human spectacle of sin, folly and frailty, in unforgettable tales of crime and punishment, vengeful ghosts and delirious soldiers, mad samurai and deranged marauders, fire and brimstone, and spiritual darkness." Not normally what you thin k of when you think of Zen, but seeing that the Zen philosophy was at the heart of the samurai code of Bushido and the connection starts making perfect sense.
The films in the programme include Masaki Kobayashi's "Kwaidan", Kaneto Shindo's "Onibaba", Kon Ichikawa's "Fires on the Plain", Kihachi Okamoto's "Sword of Doom" and Nobuo Nakagawa’s "Jigoku (Hell)" (above). All of these films will be screened on a monthly basis from now until February 18th, 2011. Don't miss these visually stunning films on the big screen, especially "Kwaidan"! Check out clips from it and all the film in the programme below and then head to the Japan Society website for full details on "Zen & Its Opposite: Essential (& Turbulent) Japanese Art House".