Kawamoto the Puppet Master: Film Clips

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    The Book of the Dead 12A

    Dir: Kihachiro Kawamoto, Japan 2005, 1hr 10 mins, Subtitled

    Set in Japan in the mid-8th century, when Buddhism was introduced from China, this represents the crowning achievement of Kawamoto’s creative practice. Embellished with supernatural elements, it is the story of Iratsume, a devout noblewoman who believes she has received a vision of Buddha himself. Journeying to a distant temple in search of the spectre, she encounters the ghost of Prince Otsu, who mistakes Iratsume for a woman he longs for. He cannot rest while her face haunts his sleep, and a battle of wills ensues.

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    Anthropo-cynical Farce (Kenju giga)

    Dir: Kihachiro Kawamoto, 1970, 8 mins

    A dog race is interrupted by a ringmaster, who attaches fish to the dog’s collars and makes them run in circles. The crowd is incensed, but the ringmaster insists that the audience is no better off than the dogs. In the end the ringmaster is assassinated and the race continues, but a single red rose sprouts from the ringmaster’s blood; a symbol of truth in a crazy world? An absurd circus is brought to life in one of Kawamoto’s few hand-drawn films.

    Screening as part of Absurdities, Legends and Fairy Tales: More information

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    Briar-Rose, or the Sleeping Beauty (Ibarahime mata manemurihime)

    Dir: Kihachiro Kawamoto, 1990, 22 mins

    For this exquisite yet unconventional fairytale based on a story written by Japan’s top screen siren of the 60s Kyoko Kishida, Kawamoto returned to Trnka’s animation studio in Prague. A young princess reaches her fifteenth birthday and discovers a diary written by her mother when she was the same age, telling of a secret paramour who dwelt deep in the forest surrounding the palace. Entering the woods during a heavy rain storm, the princess has a life-changing encounter.

    Screening as part of Demons, Poets & Priests: More information

  4. House of Flame (Kataku)


    Dir: Kihachiro Kawamoto, 1979, 19 mins

    Based on the Noh play Motomezuka- the Seeker’s Mound, this tells the story of a young woman named Unai-Otome who is loved by two men. Not knowing which to choose, in anguish, she chose death. But although her intentions were pure, not even the grave brought the respite she longed for from her earthly dilemma.

    Screening as part of Demons, Poets & Priests: More information