Narayama-bushi kô (Ballad of narayama), 1983.
Directed by Shohei Imamura
Based upon a traditional legend, Narayama is a plot-light study of a single year in a mountain village in the 19th Century, with particular focus on that region’s peculiar treatment of the elderly: once any person has reached 70 years of age, and thus is theoretically unable to contribute to the well-being of the community he or she is carried to the slopes of Mount Narayama and left to die of exposure.
To put this story in the context of Japanese culture, there’s a giant conflict here between, on the one hand, the idea of one’s duty to the rules of society and its survival, and on the other, the idea that elders are to be honored and respected, and Imamura is happily unwilling to come down firmly for or against the villagers and their seemingly vindictive behavior, which isn’t limited to their arcane euthanistic philosophy.
Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader