Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
This feature-length documentary explores the origins and history of Noh theater in Japan. Noh theater is an ancient Japanese classical art-form: austere and highly mythological. For a very long time, it was only performed before aristocrats and the Imperial court. An evening of Noh drama will invariably include a tale of exile, a tale of tragic love, and a ghost story. Often the plays will contain all three. Like many other classical Japanese art-forms, even the stage scenery in Noh is sharply circumscribed and defined; a bridge, a platform and a pine tree must somewhere be in evidence. While the plays may last as long as in more accessible forms of theater, the dialogue in Noh plays is very slim. The stories move slowly and elegantly to their (usually tragic) conclusions, and are enacted with stunning elegance by actors who often wear masks.