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Twenty-Four Eyes More at IMDbPro »Nijûshi no hitomi (original title)

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40 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

Masterpiece of storytelling...

Author: guardian-genghis from United States
18 March 2007

People who view this film would do well to consider the sentiment of post-war Japan in the mid-50s, when the future was still uncertain and the vast devastation and shame caused by the war were prevalent in the mindset of its citizens.

The timing for this film's release was significant, because perhaps for the first time, it permitted the people of Japan to cry unabashedly for themselves, far removed from any political statement so frequent in Shochiku films such as with many of Kurosawa's classics. Movies at the time tended to have positive, uplifting themes that motivated the populous to help rebuild the country into a modern democratic nation. You can thank Douglas MacArthur for that.

The post-war generation was now almost 10 years old, and in the Japanese psyche was the need for justification for its darkest period in history.

This film served as a reminder of the horrors of war, not from the battlefields, but from the emotional scars left on its children who lived and died during it.

Hideko Takamine brilliantly played the role of a school teacher on a typical remote island community in south Japan during an increasingly militarist government. As was customary at the time, the same teacher saw to their students' education from primary to high school, forming a lifetime bond.

Director Keisuke Kinoshita's camera work is nothing less than genius, beautifully portraying the transitions of seasons from year to year. The water, sand, and dust textures are so distinct that you almost forget that it was filmed in black and white.

The character closeups are never exaggerated and the 12 children actors (hence "24 Eyes") do an outstanding job portraying how they end up sacrificing their childhood dreams due to poverty and for national duty.

Of symbolic note is the appearance of the Island bus, which is seen at first with Japanese kanji characters painted on the side. Later in the film, it's written in English as "Shima Bus", signifying how modernization has reached the island after the war.

From cast, location and cinematography, Nijushi no Hitomi is a masterpiece of emotional storytelling.

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29 out of 33 people found the following review useful:


Author: sharptongue from Sydney, Australia
12 January 2003

Nearly everyone who rated this film gave it 10/10, and it's easy to see why. This is a wonderful and bittersweet story about a teacher and her first twelve students, the "24 eyes" of the title, on a fairly remote island community. The story sweeps over about 20 years, from the students in the first grade, then the sixth, then as later teenagers, then four years later. The story begins in the late 1920s, and thus spans a turbulent time in Japanese history, which of course impacts greatly on the characters, even on a fairly isolated island.

Hideko Takamine is perhaps my favourite Japanese actress. This luminous and loveable women with the dazzling smile is a joy to behold and, playing the object of much affection from the children (though only sometimes from the adults), creates a wonderful feeling. Man, I wish I'd had her as a teacher in lower primary school.

There's a strong sense of community in this story, which is one of its strong points, but it is not always a positive thing for the characters. The older women gossip, of course, about the 'modern' new teacher, because she rides a bike and wears western clothes.

The director expertly presses all the emotional buttons of the audience. There are some people who detest this sort of thing, but I'm a sucker for it. In the hands of an expert director, and for the purposes of entertainment, there's nothing wrong with being taken on a emotional roller-coaster ride. There are some high points and many sad events in the story, which moves along at a pace which is sometimes leisurely but never dull.

This film is not free of faults. Aside from the very overt emotional manipulation, there are several tunes which are vastly overused. For instance, "auld lang syne" is played at least ten times.

Also, and most surprisingly, Hideko's range is limited. Despite two and a half hours, together with Hideko being the undisputed star, she shows only three expressions during the entire proceedings. Comparison to the superb HAPPINESS FOR US ALONE shows this clearly. In HFUA, Hideko plays a deaf-mute and uses her wonderfully expressive face to full effect.

But these are minor points, and no reason to mark it down from a perfect score. This is a must-see for anyone who loves film.

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29 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

An incredible tour through Japanese history.

Author: Jawaad Mahmood ( from Montreal, Canada
21 August 2001

"Years might go by, but the mountain colour never change."

This movie is an excellent work of art by Keisuke Kinoshita.

It starts off with a new teacher being assigned to teach the first grade in a poor village. She is initially rejected from the community, and is gossiped about constantly. However the students she teaches fall in love with her style. One of her tasks is to teach the children to sing. However, instead of teaching school songs or patriotic songs, she teaches them folk songs. Misfortune strikes and she is forced to leave the school, but not before she makes a lasting impression on the children. They will see her again, as a teacher, but not for another five years.

From these humble beginnings a rich story about the poor in Japan before, during, and after World War 2 is shown. We get to know all twelve children ("24 eyes") in the movie, and eventually learn about their fates as adults. We see the equivalent of the "Red Scare" in Japan, and the saddening events caused by World War 2. Although overdramatic, the feelings still feel genuine and even the hardest of people will not be able to resist shedding a tear or two over the fates of the children you grow to love.

I can only ask you to watch the full 3 hours. That is the only way one can truly appreciate the beauty of this film. There is nothing else to be said.

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18 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Absorbing and Affecting

Author: crossbow0106 from United States
27 August 2007

For English speaking people, there are not many movies available on DVD starring Hideko Takamine. This is one, and it is a masterpiece. Ms. Takamine plays a schoolteacher in a small Inland Sea village in Japan. The movie's time line is twenty years, from 1928 to 1948. These turbulent times affect the students she teaches, some of whom went off to war. There are many tears in this film, from the children and Takamine's character. The fact that "Auld Lang Syne" is used at times for background music heightens the feelings of loss & sadness, which does make up some of the story. This is somewhat of an anti-war film, but only as it affects the children and the teacher. Ms. Takamine is luminous in this role, as she is in every movie I've ever seen her in. The fact that the director Kinoshita Keisuke also directed her in "Carmen Comes Home" (the first ever Japanese film in color), a film light years away from this one, shows off their versatility in their craft. The only complaint I have is small, that the subtitles are somewhat annoying, since they are sometimes out of sync. However, a great movie is a great movie. This film won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. It is a richly deserved honor.

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16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

An interesting description of Japan rural society

Author: maurazos from Varna, Bulgaria
12 February 2007

It was a pleasure for me to see this lovely movie, a film I've really wished to see in the last four years but I couldn't do it until today. I heard about this movie when I lived in Japan and visited Shodoshima island, where "Eiga Mura" (Cinema Village), the place this film was made, can still be visited and the atmosphere of the past can be enjoyed. To be honest, I must say that "Nijushi no hitomi" wasn't for me the "exceptional film" I expected to see, but anyway it has been a pleasant experience. The life of the rural teacher, from the start of her career (in the mid 20's) to the time she retakes her teaching position after having become a widow (in the 40's, after the end of WWII), is an interesting guide to discover the traditional life and mentalities in the small islands of Seto (Japan Inland Sea). A good point for this film: it is usually said that this is an "anti-war" film. Well, it is true that the teacher shows a clear position against the wars Japan was involved (the war against China and the later Pacific War against the USA), but this film mustn't be considered as a pacifist pamphlet: the honest position of the teacher against the war is just one more detail in this complete description of how life should be in rural Japan during those difficult prewar, war and postwar years. A film that should be shown in every school around the world.

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34 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

If you like Japanese horror movies...

Author: Daniel Poeira ( from Belo Horizonte, Brazil
29 August 2005

Whenever I tell someone about a Japanese movie called "24 Eyes", everyone asks me if it's a horror movie, because of the title and because of the recent boom of Japanese horror movie Hollywood remakes.

I always tell them that yes, it is a horror movie. It is a movie about a woman who is dissed by an entire town because she dared to ride in a bicycle. A movie about people who actually believe that fishing is more important than music. A movie about little children who prefer to die in a war than being poor like their parents.

What else could be more horrorific than all that? Black water dripping from a ceiling? A little girl walking backwards with hair covering her face?

I don't think so.

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

An incredibly moving film

Author: zetes from Saint Paul, MN
21 June 2009

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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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

A moving tribute to a teacher's dedication to her students

Author: Howard Schumann from Vancouver, B.C.
26 August 2008

Considered by some Japanese critics as one of the ten best Japanese films of all time, Keisuke Kinoshita's Twenty-Four Eyes is a moving tribute to a teacher's dedication to her students and to her progressive ideals. The film spans twenty years of turbulent Japanese history beginning in 1928 and continuing through the end of World War II. Though to Western eyes it can be at times oppressively melodramatic with its overuse of such sentimental melodies like "Annie Laurie", "Auld Lang Syne", and "Bless This House", the film was extremely popular in Japan, beating out such highly regarded classics as Mizoguchi's Sansho Dayu, Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, and Naruse's Late Chrysanthemums for Best Film in Japan and Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes.

Adapted from a novel by Sakae Tsuboi and set in the rural island of Shodoshima, the title refers to the eyes of seven girls and five boys, the twelve students of first grade teacher Hisako Oishi (Hideko Takamine), endearingly called "Miss Pebble". As the film opens, a confident new teacher, Miss Oishi, rides to the school on her bicycle dressed in modern Western clothes but soon has problems being accepted by the working class villagers who think that she is a wealthy outsider. The senior teacher (Chishu Ryu) at the primary school even asks why the authorities would send such a good teacher. Miss Oishi is also criticized for calling the students by their nicknames, inquiring into each child's family life, and singing folk songs instead of the school anthems.

Later, during the Japanese invasion of China, she is suspected of being a "red" because she discourages her young pupils from becoming soldiers but does not protest when the headmaster burns one of her books. Proud but traditionally passive, she refuses to intervene in a family dispute when one of her students, a gifted singer, expresses a desire to attend the conservatory rather than go to work in a café, and does not attempt to raise funds to send one of the poorest students on a school trip. Miss Oishi is able to gain a share of acceptance, however, after an injury to her leg sidelines her for several months and the children visit her without being aware of the length of the journey. It is only when she meets the crying children on their way to her home that reconciliation with the community begins to take place.

Unfortunately, the length of the trip to the school forces Miss Oishi to transfer to the middle school closer to her home and she will not teach the same children for five years. Miss Oishi is a compassionate teacher who does not want to see her bright young students killed in the war but the growing conflict in China and the increasing poverty in the village force the young men to become cannon fodder for the militarists with unfortunate results. Twenty-Four Eyes to our modern view has many excesses including its almost three-hour length but the purity and radiance of Takamine as the compassionate school teacher shines through and the film allowed Japanese audiences to experience a cathartic expression of the sadness and loss caused by the war.

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18 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Another postwar japanese gem

Author: rufasff from Los Angeles CA
2 July 2003

Compared to a film like "Pigs And Battleships", or even "I Live In Fear"; Kinoshita's film is a middlebrow, mainstream, even sentimental take on the Japan's war years and it's aftermath.

Still, the film is graceful and touching, with what Pauline Kael called "concealed art." Kinoshita's approach seems to be to take potently maudlin situations, and film them from an objective distance; with as direct and simple emotion as possible.

This may short change the great Takamine a bit; we seem to be an hour into the film before the great actress receives a close up. Still, her performaces gains power as the film goes on.

Though politics are kept in the background, as perhaps they had to in a Japanese film of this nature; but there is an anger lurking in the backgroud; an inditement of a culture that would waste the strength of it's woman and worse; reduce it's men to cannon fodder. Was it something in Japanese life; rather than just it's military, that led to it's disasters? Even the country's great filmmakers seem hesitant to speculate. In any event, another strong film of interest to all those who have fallen under the spell of great Japanese film.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

An iconic Japanese film by Kinoshita

Author: lyrast from Ireland
11 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Before I watched 24 Ey"es, I prepared myself for what I thought would be a Japanese version of Goodbye, Mr Chips" {a film I have never really enjoyed despite my appreciation of Robert Donat}. What I experienced was something much more realistic and emotionally moving. Rather than being a sentimental tale of the dedicated teacher earning the life-long love of her pupils, it is the greater and deeper saga of a loving woman who happens to be a teacher and who is also a moral mentor for those who need her devotion, guidance, example, courage and love during the lean, desperate, and sometimes frightening years during which she works. That time context is the difficult period beginning with the Depression and including the terrible years of the Second World War.

Naturally a human focus is necessary because of the large time span covered in the film and the director chooses the twelve pupils who are part of Oishi's first experiences and with whom she relates at various times through her life. Kinoshita skilfully manages the contrast between the time and the person throughout the film. Everyone has the right to their own opinions which must be respected, but I can only disagree with the viewer who criticised the film as "unshaded and unshaped to the point of tedium". Yes, the film is long. But every incident has a function and the totality is far from "unshaped". Likewise the criticism that the heroine was well named as "Miss Cry Baby" by her students is unfair. I think that this perspective simply misses the fact that the cultural restrictions of the time {which included a major war} were such as made any proactive assault on social attitudes completely impossible.

So this film is not at all sentimental in the Mr Chips mode. Miss Oishi has accidents, deals with the problems of unsympathetic and intractable parents, is regarded as possibly being a "Red", and has to watch her clearly well-meaning principal burn a book of literary works by students because they are not politically correct. She leaves teaching for a period, in part out of disillusionment and in part to raise her own family, allowing us to see another dimension to her character.

The original twelve students continue to impact in various ways throughout her life, forming a rhythm and pattern which not only brings happiness and sorrow, but helps to inform her vision of life with its stoical, courageous strength—a strength she imparts to them in return.

It is quite a beautiful film and the DVD has as an extra a superb interview with the Japanese film historian, Tadao Sato which is revelatory and sensitive. He mentions that when the children grew older, look-alike siblings were chosen by Kinoshita to play the roles! He explains a great deal about the cultural, political, and social contexts which make this film so effective and have made it a cinematic icon for the Japanese people.

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