Drama / Fantasy / History

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

Top cast

915.52 MB
Japanese 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 39 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by punishmentpark9 / 10

Another Japanese cinematic piece of art from the previous century.

First off: much thanks to IMDb users mevmijaumau and psteier for their enlightening reviews on 'Himiko'. Personally, I couldn't think of more than 'Shakespearian' as far as the story is concerned. And the ending must have inspired M. Night Shyamalan for 'The village' (2004),right?

Back to 'Himiko'. A wonderful, but rather extreme (violence, incest) tale of a couple of Japanese clans who are at war with each other. Was it just the 'land' people versus the 'sun' people? I thought there were 'mountain' in there, too? Or are they the same as the 'land' people? I'm not sure, as I am unsure about many other details. A good excuse to watch it again sometime, because beyond the story, this is a terrific, vivid piece of cinema that deserves to be seen more than once.

I especially enjoyed the various costumes (the court men, or the ones 'dressed in grass'),but also the settings and the long, impressive monologues and the elaborate punishment (of Takehiko) scene. But perhaps that is unfair toward all the other scenes, because it was all captivating.

An impressive ancient tale with a modern twist at the end. 9 out of 10.

Reviewed by mevmijaumau9 / 10

Himiko (1974)

I like movies about shintoism, but it's really surprising how few of them are in circulation. New Wave director Masahiro Shinoda's movie Himiko, winner of the 1974 Strangest Poster Contest, is not a direct recounting of shinto myths, but instead a tweaked, re-imagined biography of shaman queen Himiko, here played by Shinoda's wife Shima Iwashita. Shinoda strays far from official history to create an author's take on power, sexuality and religion, mixing elements from both ancient Chinese and Japanese sources, with an affinity for slight surrealism.

The movie's plot line has some similarities with actual shinto myths, most notably the one where the Sun goddess Amaterasu gets into an argument with her brother Susanoo, so she hides in a cave, letting the world fall into darkness now that she can't provide sunlight anymore. She is then tricked out of the cave and the world becomes bright again. In the film, Himiko falls in love with her half-brother Takehiko, but arguments ensue and she has him killed, while she is kept away from the public eye. She is killed by the courtmen and replaced by an oracle girl, who raises the mirror (Amaterasu's symbol) and proclaims that she is indeed Himiko, who likely got reincarnated. The camera pans way back and up, to reveal a contemporary landscape to remind of the history's progress through repetition.

Of course, that's not all. Shinoda's film is also a comment on patriarchy and the gap between sexuality and political/religious duties. The first scene of the film even has Himiko indulge in a ritual where she orgasms by having the mirror reflect the sunlight on her genitals. While the film is cryptic, it's not outright undecipherable, and the sheer amount of exposition thankfully helps not to get completely lost in the world of inside shinto-references, with kabuki and butoh elements (butoh dancer Tatsumi Hijikata and the members of the troupe also appear in the film). The music was done by Toru Takemitsu, a frequent collaborator with Shinoda.

The movie's visual style is amazing. It's like a mixture of Eastern mysticism, Jodorowsky and Fellini in his surreal period. The outrageous costumes and the red-white color palette, the shadow play, the expressionistic color compositions - wow. I also really liked the design of Himiko's palace, really stunning. I was also impressed by the image of Takehiko standing in the forest with a dozen arrows through him, or of Himiko in that beautiful shaman dress/make-up, visiting the forest with her servants.

Reviewed by kurtralske8 / 10

The distant past, seen through a Modernist lens

Really excellent film. There's a very rare subgenre of historical films: ones that aim to bring to life ancient times...but not by an "authentic" recreation of the past -- instead, the director uses experimental/modernist cinematic techniques to bring traditional folklore and beliefs firmly into relation with the present. Examples include "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" (1965, Paradjanov),"Marketa Lazerova" (1967, Vlacil),"The Night of Counting the Years" (1969, Chadi Abdel Salam). Like these, "Himoko" powerfully reanimates dormant cultural world-views, and is particularly successful at connecting them to our era.

"Himoko" retells an ancient Japanese legend of a shaman-queen. The story is timeless and "universal", yet the world of "Himoko" is a particular Shinto animist world, in which gods of the sun and the land directly control people's lives. The viewer is pulled into the past, by the beautiful unspoiled forest and mountain landscapes, the peoples' costumes and rituals, and most powerfully by the intensity of the performances -- especially Shima Iwashita as Himoko, whose extraordinary performance conveys the fervid complete conviction of shamanistic beliefs. (My new favorite Japanese actress!)

But the viewer is also pushed into the present. The director Shinoda does not try to fool the viewer with an "authentic" past: the indoor scenes are staged in a space resembling a theatrical set or art gallery, with clearly unnatural (but beautifully dramatic) lighting. A troupe of five Butoh dancers perform stunning, horrifying, evocative dance-rituals throughout, acting sometimes as a Greek chorus outside the story-space, at other times directly involved in the action. And the film's coda breaks the fourth wall, making it plain that Shinoda is less interested in the distant past, than the way that ancient things still live within the present.

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