Book Of The Dead, The
In this ravishing film of mystical beauty, master animator Kihachiro Kawamoto's tour de adventure tale tells the story of a young noblewomen in 8th century Japan who leaves her home to follow the apparition of an executed prince.
The Book Of The Dead takes place as Buddhism is being introduced to Japan from China. Iratsume, a women of noble descent, becomes obsessed with this mysterious new religion. One night, in a rapturous trance, she sees a luminous vision that she believes to be the Buddha, compelling her to leave home and journey to a sacred temple. Once there, she sees Otsu, a young price who was executed 50 years earlier. While Iratsume mistakes the prince's spirit for the incarnation of the great Buddha, the ghost mistakes Iratsume for the last woman he saw at the moment of his death. As an act of great devotion, she decides to make a giant shroud for the prince to heal his soul, after which he begins to haunt the young woman and those around her. The pair embark on an impassioned battle of wills, one longing for the material world, the other striving for the spiritual.
This strange story of otherworldly romance is the work of stop motion animator and puppet maker Kihachiro Kawamoto, a former student of the master Czech animator Jiri Trnka. Already a legend in his own right, with The Book Of The Dead he has created an intricately detailed magnum opus, a summation of the themes explored in all of his work: the transience of existence, the ambiguity of human behavior, and the search for perfection and beauty in an imperfect world. One final note for animation buffs: The film also features work by the acclaimed Russian animator and director Yuriy Norshteyn, who was involved in The Book Of The Dead as a guest animator.