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A girl who had left her small Japanese village for the excitement and adventure of the big city--in this case, Tokyo--returns home years later for a visit. However, scandal erupts when the villagers find out what she has been doing in Tokyo all these years--she's a stripper. Written by
Like so many Japanese movies, it's very strange but very interesting
This was the very first color film made in Japan. It's a relatively simple tale about a small remote village that rests at the foot of a volcano. The people are simple and life is uncomplicated here, even if the people struggle to make ends meet.
Things get interesting when the daughter (Karumen, or Carmen) of one of the townsmen decides that she will be returning for a visit. She had left the village years ago in search of greener pastures in the big city (Tokyo) where she has become a famous dancer. The townspeople have only heard about her celebrity but don't really have a clue as to the content of what has made her famous. It turns out that her performances border on the risque and she is essentially a high-class exotic dancer. Scandal erupts in the town as this fact comes to light.
Now one might assume that with this plot, the logical thing to have happen is that Karumen realizes all the wonderful things she gave up in the small village and that her life in Tokyo as an exotic dancer is hollow. But this being a Japanese movie, it doesn't follow that cliched convention. Instead the message from the film is complex and can be interpreted in many ways: perhaps one man's exotic dancer is another man's performance art; or the world needs exotic dancers to attract more general attention to the arts; or people should be free to decide what type of performance they want to put on and people should be free to decide what type of performance they wish to watch; or maybe in fact while the exotic dancer gets a big audience (and money), her life is indeed hollow compared to the poor (and blind) harmonium player in the village.
At any rate, the movie does not give you a simple and easily interpretable message. Instead it only provides you with many thoughts and leaves it for you to decide what message you think you should take away. This is such a lost art in filmmaking, particularly in today's Hollywood in-your-face heavy-handed manner of giving the audience the 'message'. What's also interesting in the film is the complexity of the characters. They do good things and bad things at different times, and while some might be better than others, no characters are always good, and neither are any always bad. This certainly more accurately reflects real human behavior and again is something that is often missing from mainstream American cinema.
In sum, I think that this film is certainly worth a look, and while it is not likely to blow you away, it is well worth watching for historical reasons, for some magnificent scenery, some intriguing musical numbers and choreography, and for seeing a different way to tell a story in film. 8 out of 10.
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