Demon Pond (Yashagaike) by Masahiro Shinoda in restored version: tradition turned on its head

Picture of the movie Yashagaike (Demon Pond) © 1979/2021 Shochiku Co., Ltd.


In the Cannes Classics selection, Shōchiku Studios presents a restored version of Yashagaike (Demon Pond), made in 1979 by one of the pioneers of the Japanese New Wave, Masahiro Shinoda. A mystical masterpiece that draws on Japanese traditions and one of the filmmaker’s most singular works.

Selected three times in Competition for Chinmoku (Silence) in 1972, Himiko in 1974, and Sharaku in 1995, Japanese director, editor and screenwriter Masahiro Shinoda returns to Cannes with the restored version of Yashagaike (Demon Pond). Between fantasy drama and a tragic love story, the action unfolds in an isolated mountain village in the province of Echizen, where legend has it that a dragon lies at the bottom of the pond. If the village bell is not rung three times a day, the dragon will be freed and will create a mortal flood. Akira and Yuri, in charge of keeping this mysterious tradition, see their daily lives turned upside down by the arrival of Professor Yamasawa in the village.

“Forty-two years later, the demon princess awakes from a long sleep to live again and draw a new audience thanks to her beauty.”

Masahiro Shinoda

Tradition turned on its head is certainly the watchword of the film. Shinoda has created a film adaptation of a Kabuki performance, a traditional theatre genre in Japan, with a history of over four centuries, characterised by heavily made-up male actors and impressive scenic arrangements. Written at the beginning of the 20th century by Japanese writer and dramaturge, Kyoka Izumi, a specialist of the fantasy genre, this play features an onnagata (male actor playing a female role), incarnated in the film by one of the most famous contemporary Kabuki actors, Tamasaburō Bandō. This mystical legend is enhanced by the audacious and exalted style of one of the wolves of the rebel generation of Japanese cinema of the 1960s, which makes for a work of stunning richness.

Personally initiated and supervised by Shinoda and Bandō, the 4K restoration of this work that has not received the attention it deserves promises the resurgence of these mythological creatures in their heavy makeup from the abyss of cinematography.

Yashagaike (Demon Pond), Masahiro Shinoda, 1979
4K restoration from the original 35 mm negative provided by Shōchiku
Remastering of sound by Shōchiku MediaWorX Inc.
Remastering of the image by Imagica Entertainment Media Services, Inc.