Animation sequences by Ishida Sumiaki.
Iwate Prefecture in northeastern Japan is the setting for The Legends of Tono (Tōno Monogatari), a unique collection of regional folk tales, gathered in the early 20th Century by Kunio Yanagita. The tales manifest and explain invisible forces and malevolent events which shape the psycho-cultural dimensions of Japanese indigenous beliefs and folk faith.
Inspired by The Legends of Tono, Horse/Kappa/House records the surrounding landscape in a number of small villages throughout Iwante Prefecture in order to create a cinematic space which echoes by implication and association, the external and unseen world in the environment. The film embodies the idea so eloquently stated by noted historian, Mr. Umehara Takeshi, that "all living things—animals and plants, as well as mountains, rivers, and other natural phenomena have spirits and that these spirits are constantly moving back and forth between Heaven and this world, forming the basis of the Japanese ethos."
The form of the film was shaped in the editing and post-production process, as Ravett sought to embody the ephemeral into material form. He utilized a combination of time lapse cinematography, animation, optical printing and intertitles to provide a context for a broader understanding of the legends. The audio track—a conbination of indigenous sounds, field recordings of religious ceremonies, plus Komori Uta (lullabies) chanted by Aba Yae, a renowned singer and local farmer, adds a haunting, emotionally charged layer of meaning to the visual tapestry. For example, Dendera Field, seen today as a lovely pastoral landscape, was historically the site where children abandoned elderly parents who were seen as no longer productive. Framed by the sounds of birds chirping, the long, timelapse view of Dendrea Field is presented as a space of loss, memory, and collective history.
Available on the Refletions on Japan DVD.