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Humanity and Paper Balloons (1937)
"Ninjô kami fûsen" (original title)

 |  Drama  |  August 1982 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 1,077 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 15 critic

A poor, masterless samurai who depends on the paper balloons his wife makes to feed his family becomes tempted by a criminal opportunity

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Title: Humanity and Paper Balloons (1937)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Chôjûrô Kawarasaki ...
Matajuro Unno, a samurai
Kan'emon Nakamura ...
Shinza, the barber
Tsuruzo Nakamura
Chôemon Bandô
Sukezo Sukedakaya ...
Landlord
Emitaro Ichikawa
Noboru Kiritachi
Shizue Yamagishi ...
Otaki, Matajuro's wife
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Toshio Arashi
Daisuke Katô ...
Isuke - Yatagoro henchman
Kôzaburô Nakamura
Chôbee Yamazaki
Shimajirô Yamazaki
Edit

Storyline

A poor, masterless samurai who depends on the paper balloons his wife makes to feed his family becomes tempted by a criminal opportunity

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

August 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ballad of the Paper Balloons  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Connections

Referenced in Seven Samurai: Origins and Influences (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

 
rain falling
12 April 2008 | by (Ireland) – See all my reviews

I got this movie out of curiosity to see why some writers call Yamanaka the equal of Ozu and Kurosawa, despite his death at just 29. A pre war movie about 18th Century slum dwellers doesn't sound so interesting, but like the other reviewers here I found it a fascinating and haunting experience. I think this movie will live with me for many years.

It features a range of wonderful characters, most notably a sad, alcoholic samurai and his patient wife (the maker of the 'paper balloons' of the title), the sharp go-getter Shinza, the rabble of slum dwellers who surround them and the gangsters and others who prey on them - but who are often prey in return. The structure of the story is marvelous - its so very short, yet, there are multiple threads, all brought together beautifully - the young couple seeking to elope, the desperation of the fallen Samurai trying to regain his position, the sharp practices of Shinza, even the little jokes of a blind (or is he?) handyman. It all comes together to a haunting ending, that seems remarkably modern. It is also a wonderfully humane story, that treats the poverty stricken characters with respect and compassion.

This is a truly great film, one that can stand up with the acclaimed masterpieces of the 1950's. Such a terrible shame that Yamanaka died so young and that so few of his other movies survived. I hope what others are around will be brought out soon on DVD. Masters of Cinema should be congratulated for releasing this lovely version.


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