Owl (film)

Directed by Kaneto Shindo
Written by Kaneto Shindo
Starring Akira Emoto
Music by Hikaru Hayashi
Release dates
  • June 22, 2003 (2003-06-22) (Moscow)
  • February 7, 2004 (2004-02-07) (Tokyo)
Running time
119 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Owl (ふくろう Fukurō) is a 2003 Japanese black comedy film directed by Kaneto Shindo. It was entered into the 25th Moscow International Film Festival where Shinobu Otake won the award for Best Actress and Shindo was awarded a special prize for contribution to world cinema.[1]


Around 1980, two women, a mother and a daughter, the last occupants of a farming village called "Kibogaoka" for Japanese returnees from Manchuria, are slowly starving to death. As one of the women contemplates eating a lizard, the other suggests a better way to survive. They telephone a dam construction site and offer themselves as prostitutes. A worker comes to visit them, has sex with the mother, and then they give him their "special drink". This causes him to foam at the mouth, emit animal noises, and then die. They cart his body off and celebrate getting his money.

With the money, they are able to get food to eat, and have their electricity and water supplies switched back on. They seduce then kill both the electrician and the plumber in the same way, gaining more money, as well as another construction worker and the boss of the electrician. They discuss their plan to travel the world once they have 1.5 million yen.

A policeman comes to investigate the disappearances of the men. As they are about to seduce him, another man, the son of the man who set up the unsuccessful village, comes. For the first time, the daughter, rather than the mother, sleeps with him. He gives them 300,000 yen and tells them he is going to commit suicide to atone for his father's crimes, so they decide not to bother killing him with the special drink. He borrows 20,000 yen for his suicide and leaves.

They then kill the boss of the dam construction site. Then the suicidal son returns, saying he wants to marry the daughter. The policeman also returns and the man hides. Then Joji, a childhood friend of the daughter, returns. The policeman hides while Joji tells the women his sad story. The three men then confront each other and all three end up dead. The women drink beer and sing the song of their village.

A year later, a group of middle-aged men enter the now-empty house, which is about to be demolished, and describe having found the nine bodies, one in each house of the village.



Except for a few views of the buildings in the village, the entire film is shot on a single set, the interior of the women's house. This was partly due to director Shindo's mobility problems.[2]


Derek Elley, film critic at Variety Asia, called it "a delightful rondo of sex and death, underpinned by a tart commentary on Japan’s post-war aspirations".[3]


  1. "25th Moscow International Film Festival (2003)". MIFF. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  2. Shindo, Kaneto (2012). Nagase, Hiroko, ed. 100 sai no ryugi [The Centenarian's Way] (in Japanese). PHP. ISBN 978-4-569-80434-7.
  3. "Two Masters of Japanese Cinema" (PDF). British Film Institute. May 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
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