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Schoolteacher Hisako Oishi struggles to imbue her students with a positive view of the world and their place in it, despite the fact that she knows full well that most of them will die in the war. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Mostly unknown and frequently dismissed in the West, this film is often considered by the Japanese to be one of their very best films, if not their best. I concur with the Japanese. I can understand the issues people have with it, namely that it is overly sentimental, but I think it mostly earns the tears that are shed over it. It's a film in the classic teacher genre, like Goodbye Mr. Chips. Hideko Takamine plays Hisako Oishi, a young woman who begins the movie as a first grade teacher on a small island in 1928. Being a small population, she ends up staying with the same students for several years. The film ends in the 1950s, so you kind of know what will probably happen to her male students, and what she and her female students will have to experience. It may be somewhat predictable, but it's incredibly heartbreaking. The film is beautifully made, and filled with Japanese folk songs (strangely, the score of the film is made up of a bunch of Western music, including "Bonnie Annie Laurie" and "There's No Place Like Home"; it's definitely a flaw). Takamine, who starred in several Mikio Naruse films around the same time, is exceptional.
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