Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
To research this ethnographical documentary about life in a small Japanese village, the director spent thirteen years living there, doing extensive research and conducting thousands of interviews. Almost four hours long, the filmmaker's approach tends to favor accuracy over entertainment. The movie begins with an extensive overview of rice-planting and only then discusses the relevant mythologies which govern that and much else about the residents' lives. At one point, the villagers re-enact one of their important myths for the filmmaker, who comments on what is happening and leads the transitions from one stunningly photographed scene to another.