July 10, 2010

Madadayo (1993) Akira Kurosawa

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Cast: Tatsuo Matsumura, Kyôko Kagawa, Hisashi Igawa, Jôji Tokoro
Writers: Akira Kurosawa (writer), Ishirô Honda (uncredited), Hyakken Uchida (essays)
Music: Shinichirô Ikebe
Production: Japan, 1993
Runtime: 134 minutes

Welcome back to Film Focus, today I feel a little bit nostalgic as I was remembering my days as a high school student. We all have that special teacher that make us know more and more about his subject, teachers that knew how to reach to the student so he can reach their maximum potential and that really care about the students. For that and many more qualities, I always believe that teachers (or at least good ones) should be reward in some way. The feeling of thankfulness and caring for the teacher are topic of the next review. Madadayo is the thirtieth and final movie directed by Akira Kurosawa. It was screen during the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.

The main story of the film is based on the life of Hyakken Uchida, a very well known academic and author of different novels ("Realm of the Dead" rings any bell?). The movie is set up somewhere in the 30´s before the second world war , after so many years teaching Uchida resigns, the day of his birthday, as a German professor to dedicate his days to write novels. The main plot of the movie describes the relationship that the professor has with his former students who care deeply for this beloved teacher in his old age.

The months pass by and when the teacher’s birthday arrives, the students decide to throw him a party in his honor. During the celebration each student thanks the professor in their own and personal way. At one point, the students choke about his death asking him "Mou ii kai?" ("Are you ready?") to what the professor responds by drinking a large ceremonial glass of beer and shouting  "Mada dayo"("Not yet"), implying that death may be near, but life still goes on.

During the film, we also see the events between the different celebrations. After the Second World War, the house of the professor is destroyed by the bombs but the students manage to make him a little house to live on. After some years, the teacher moves to a new place where he discovers a cat and adopt him as a pet (Nora). Life goes on but some day Nora is nowhere to be found. Seeing the teacher drown in tears and sadness the students decide to start looking for the cat but after some days of not getting results they decide to stop looking for it. To everyone’s surprise, a new cat shows up (Kurz) and take the place of the old one and the professor finds happiness once again. If he want to look under the skin of the professor we can say that as a character he represents innocence, he is afraid of the dark, he has inability to tolerate thunders and he´s love towards the cat it´s a little bit childish. There are a lot of philosophical content in his speeches that will make you think. After he finds the new cat, he invites the students to thank them for their help. He refers to himself as the Haze that was save by the God of the harvest, let me explain. The Haze of Inaba is Japanese myth, that tells the story of this haze that wanted to cross the river so he ask a shark to served him as a bridge but before he reach the cost the shark bites him and take his fur off. The God of the Harvest who was near teaches the haze to clean and to dress in cotton to protect his skin. The professor explains that the students were his God of Harvest that took care of him and help him in this hard situation and he will be thankful for the rest of his life.

It´s interesting to see how the annual celebration changes from a simple meeting to a fraternity party atmosphere to finished in a more family gathering as the student get married and have kids. Although the large glass of beer that Uchida drinks changes as it´s get´s bigger, he always manages to drink the whole thing. One day after a celebration, party the professor gets sick and at that night, he passes away in companion of his beloved students. I won´t tell the end of the movie but it´s my favorite ending I have ever seen in screen. Other things I discover while doing this review is that with this movie Kurosawa is kind of saying good bye as a director thanking all the people that influence him since he started making movies. Tatsuo Matsumura the actor how portrayed the professor was 79 years old when the movie was shoot but his character was supposed to be between the age of 55 to 77 throughout the movie.
Akira Kurosawa painted the cloudy sky artwork in the last scene as well as the video cover. The song in the last scene is L´estro Armonico Op.3 Concerto No9 by Antonio Vivaldi (I have to check this info). Madadayo is also about the culmination of one if the greatest directors that ever existed as Kurosawa died on 1998 at the age of 88. There is no words I could possible write in this review that can match the beauty of this movie, this is that kind of movie that you have to see it by your own. Ok this is the end of my review for today I could go on and on about this movie but I don’t want to spoil it. As allways thanks and comment if you like the review, until next time.

By Sebastian Nadilo
Trailer: --No trailer--(sorry)
Scene to see: The proffesor turns 60
MusicAntonio Vivaldi: L´estro armonico Op.3, Concerto 9 [Correct link to the music added

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