The Book of the Dead

Set during the Nara period in the mid-eighth century, when Buddhism was introduced to Japan from China, this hauntingly beautiful puppet animation intertwines two poetic stories. The first is based on a true story of a young noblewoman, Iratsume, who studies Buddhism, meticulously making copies of the amida sutra. After seeing what she believes to be a vision of the Buddha, she journeys to a temple. There she learns the story of Prince Otsu, who was executed fifty years earlier. Obsessed by a vision of a young woman, an ancestor of Iratsume, who witnessed his death, Prince Otsu's ghost haunts the temple in the belief that Iratsume is the woman of his vision. The two battle through many nights, one longing for the material world, the other striving for the spiritual. Driven to make this film because “the world is now confused and in panic, and there is war happening for no reason,” Kawamoto expresses the Japanese Buddhist concept that the souls of those who are killed must be consoled, saying, “I am trying to heal those innocent people who have died in recent wars.”-Kathy Geritz

The Book of the Dead is repeated on Thursday, June 29.

• (70 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles and English voiceover, Color, 35mm, From 100 Meter Films)

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