Saturday, January 08, 2011

Seeing Kathakali in Kabuki

What is it about Kabuki that makes it instantly appealing to my - decidedly Indian - eyes?

Perhaps it is the similarities one see with Kathakali: stylized costumes that exaggerate body movement and facial expressions and a background narrative which stretches out words in a slow, sing-song manner, giving you the time to soak in the nuances at a thoughtful pace. Or maybe it is simply because the televised performances on NHK always comes with a transcript that can be deciphered even by Nihongo novices like me!

Here are two classic Japanese movies (with English subtitles) that give us glimpse into the world of Kabuki artists:

ICHIKAWA KON's 雪之丞変化 / Yukinojō Henge (Yukinojo's Revenge / Revenge of a Kabuki Actor (1963)) -


MIZOGUCHI KENJI's 残菊物語 / Zangiku Monogatari (The Story of Late Chrysanthemums, 1939) - 

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