The story focuses on four teenagers—all siblings and first cousins—spending the summer with their grandmother in her rural home near Nagasaki. The first half simply observes the teenagers and their loving-but-teasing relationships with each other and their grandmother. It includes a tour of important Nagasaki sites—a way to introduce us to a modern city with memorials to one horrific event within living memory.
In the second half, the parents return, bringing generational conflict with them. Their interest in long-lost relatives are mercenary—they hope the connection will lead to better jobs. These attitudes offend both the teenagers and the grandmother. They learn from and apologize for their mistakes.
One thing I noticed on this second viewing: The parents are dressed in formal business attire when we meet them. They dress more casually as the story progresses, until they end up in tee-shirts and jeans like their kids. The make-up department did little or nothing to make Gere look half-Japanese.
I think I noticed the slightest alternation in the shape of his eyes. In his classic period, Kurosawa showed us a world full of cruelty and indifference, and celebrated those who fought it with kindness and charity. They finish by visiting a park at ground zero where monuments from the world over, except for from America, have been set up to acknowledge the tragedy of Nagasaki.
Kurosawa was criticized for not acknowledging the atrocities committed by the Japanese army in World War II, and responded that wars are between governments, not people. Has Japan set up monuments everywhere they committed an atrocity?
Kurosawa would have been better off defending himself by simply observing that the film is not an angry screed, but a story of people reacting emotionally to a tragedy in their past. They finish up their trip to the park by splashing water on a plaque commemorating the victims of Nagasaki who died wishing for water. Water is a recurring motif of the film, perhaps suggesting that Kurosawa wished that we could wash away the past.
The grandchildren also leap to the assumption that their grandmother hates America now. As someone who spent good portions of my teen summers at the family farm with my grandmother, that rings true. It also opens up the door for Kane to discuss her other siblings as they try to get her to remember Suzujiro by listing off all the siblings that they know for certain.
She remembers her brother who was a shoemaking apprentice with the opportunity for his own store, who threw it all away to run off with the wife of his mentor. Strikingly, she remembers that their cabin was nearby near a place where two trees were struck by lightning.
The remains of the trees Kane describes as being like two lovers that had committed suicide. Immediately thereafter the grandchildren watch as an old friend visits their grandmother. Afterwards, Kane explains that her friend lost her husband to the Nagasaki bombing. But, reminding herself of the bombing, also brings up other connections, such as one of her other brothers who lost his hair in the fallout and became a shut in.
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He would only draw only pictures of eyes and sometimes sneak out for a dip in a pool at a nearby waterfall. On their return, they find their grandmother at a Buddhist shrine remembering the dead. Kane remembers the sky splitting open with the flash and an eye peering out, which Kurosawa uses to create a striking visual of her memory. From that image, Kurosawa cuts to a moonlit night over the same landscape for contrast. That leads to a pure sequence of comedy as Shinjiro takes it upon himself to pull a prank on his older sister and cousins with his own impersonation of the water imp.
That leads directly into a slapstick chase around the old home, complete with Tateo playing the organ, echoing a silent film comedy. The film has been going back and forth between the serious atomic bomb considerations and light, family drama and it now decides to move forward with the plot. At this point, Kane agrees to go to Hawaii, much to the joy of her grandchildren, but only after the August 9 th memorial service for the victims of Nagasaki.
It leads to some awkward time as the parents gauchely worry that it will spoil their opportunities by making their rich American relatives uncomfortable by having to deal with the implications of the atomic bomb. Kurosawa is probably being a bit harsh here. The parents were part of a generation that started from nothing in the ashes of World War II.
Her recollections of her lost spouse have never been fully reconciled within her own memory of her lost loved one.
She begins to show signs of odd behavior in laying out her husband's old clothing as if her husband might suddenly reappear and need them to put on. When a storm is brewing, her mental health seems to confuse the storm for an air raid warning of another atomic bomb attack and she seeks to protect her visiting grandchildren by employing folk remedies, which confuse her children and especially her grandchildren.
As the storm later intensifies again, Kane becomes more disoriented and mistakenly confuses the storm for the atmospheric disturbance caused by the bombing of Nagasaki which she witnessed visually from a safe distance when her husband was killed many years ago. In her disoriented state, Kane decides that she must save her husband, still alive in her memory, from the impending atomic blast.
With all her remaining strength, she takes her small umbrella to battle the storm on foot on the way to warn her husband in Nagasaki of the mortal threat still fresh in her mind of the atomic blast which she cannot forget. Some critics made much of the fact that the film centered on the film's depiction of the atomic bombing as a war crime while omitting details of Japanese war crimes in the Pacific War. When Rhapsody premiered at the Cannes Film Festival ,  one journalist even cried out at a press conference, "Why was the bomb dropped in the first place?
Japanese cultural critic Inuhiko Yomota commented:. Kurosawa's response was that wars are between governments, not people, and denied any anti-American agenda. Both are Japanese kanji words. But, often, the Japanese title has been cited without the furigana in various media. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Shochiku Films Ltd. Los Angeles Times.