Following World War II, a retired professor, approaching his autumn years, finds his quality of life drastically reduced in war torn Tokyo. Denying despair, he pursues writing and celebrates his birthday with his adoring students.
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This film tells the story of professor Uehida Hyakken-sama (1889-1971), in Gotemba, around the forties. He was a university professor until an air raid, when he left to become a writer and has to live in a hut. His mood has hardly changed, not by the change nor by time. Every year his students celebrate his birthday, issuing the question "Mahda kai?" (not yet?), just to hear Uehida-san's answer "Madada yo!" (No, not yet!), in a ritual of self affirmation, and desires of lasting forever. It's a very "japanese" film who portrays everyday life and customs in Japan. Written by
Jaime Moraga <email@example.com>
Madadayo chronicles the life of a retired professor who lives vicariously through all the students he has taught. The students admire him greatly, he is visited often and many stay to listen to his whimsy and foolish stories. The professor is a child at heart, and not much really happens. The film doesn't have a plot really, and only 2 things start to focus around the story one being the loss of the professors house after the allied bombing, and the loss of a stray cat he adopts years later.
To the viewer though there is much in between stories and people to digest such as a great celebratory dinner that is held every year, and so on. To some degree I will admit I liked the camradare that I witnessed, the great dialogue, the professors childish personality, but I wanted the film to move forward and to at least give me something to focus on.
The lost cat scene was a good distraction but it did go a little more longer than neccesary. I find this often sometimes in Kurosawa's work (The lost gun in Stray Dogs, following the suspect in High and Low reminded me of this). However, the hallmarks of his great filmmaking are apparent in the dinner scenes, cinematography, and conversations. He also provides scenes that the viewer could take as obligatory (such as a death, or the possible return of the cat), but Kurosawa changes this so the outcome is not what you expect but refreshing.
However, the best is saved for last... litteraly. As I was waiting for the film to end, the hallmark of greatness arrives without question in the span of what must have been only 5 minutes. The ending just wraps up everything so perfectly, and it made me from just liking the film to instantly loving it. It gives a real insight into the professors mind who is greatly admired and respected.
Rating 8 out of 10
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