The Priest & the Beauty

Director: Koji Shima

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The Priest & the Beauty (Anchin-to-Kyohime, Daiei, 1960) is a a color film based on a classic ghost story, though the supernaturalism is subdued compared to the original tale. It is a legend of the temple Kisho Dojo-ji in Wakayama Prefecture, built in the year 701. Versions of the story have found their way in Joruri stortelling art, Bunraku puppet theater, & a famous Kabuki play.

The handsome young monk Anchin (Raizo Ichikawa) is accidently injured by Princess Kiyo (Ayako Wakao) while on a hunt. An acquaintance develops between them that is soon admitted to be love, but Anchin will not break his monk's vows.

Kiyo's obsession for the monk causes social disruptions in both their lives. She is betrothed to Tomotsuna (Akihiko Katayama) & when she rebels against the marriage because she loves someone else, her father (Miake Bontaro) commits suicide since he has been unable to honor the agreement.

Blamed for the tragedy & disruptions, Anchin is run out of town. He goes into seclusion at Dojo-ji, where he has a foreboding dream of Kiyo, afterward finding out that she too has committed suicide.

The kaidan or traditional ghost story this film is based on is rather more extreme in the original, there being some attempt at naturalism in this atmospheric retelling. As usually told, Anchin flees from the spirit of betrayed Kiyohime's ghost, & hides inside a large temple bell since the sound of the bell is believed to repel demons. Her spirit turns into a giant serpent which wraps around the bell, causing the bronze to heat up bright red, roasting the monk alive.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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