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Black Rain (1989)
"Kuroi ame" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  17 September 1989 (USA)
8.0
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 1,979 users  
Reviews: 20 user | 24 critic

The story of the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing, based on Masuji Ibuse's novel.

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(novel), , 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Yoshiko Tanaka ...
Yasuko
Kazuo Kitamura ...
Shigematsu Shizuma
Etsuko Ichihara ...
Shigeko Shizuma
Shôichi Ozawa ...
Shokichi
Norihei Miki ...
Kotaro
Keisuke Ishida ...
Yuichi
Hisako Hara ...
Kin
Masato Yamada ...
Tatsu
Tamaki Sawa ...
Woman in Ikemoto-ya
Akiji Kobayashi ...
Katayama
Kazuko Shirakawa ...
Old Woman with white flag
Kenjirô Ishimaru ...
Aono
Mayumi Tateichi ...
Fumiko of Ikemoto-ya
Taiji Tonoyama ...
The Old Priest
Fujio Tokita ...
40 Year Old Woman with burns
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Storyline

Mr and Mrs Shizuma, and their niece Yasuko, make their way through the ruins of Hiroshima, just after the atomic bomb has dropped. Five years later, Yasuko is living with her aunt and uncle, and her senile grandmother, in a village containing many of the bomb survivors. Yasuko does not appear to be affected by the bomb, but the Shizuma's are worried about her marriage prospects, as she could succumb to radiation sickness at any time. Written by Will Gilbert

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 September 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Black Rain  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Yoshiko Tanaka, the cast were forbidden by the director to leave the village they were filming in to return to Tokyo, even if they had a day off, because Imamura did not wish for them to then return to the location having experienced again the comfort and ease present-day of city life. See more »

Quotes

Shigematsu Shizuma: "An unjust peace is better than a just war." It's important to note that this is said cynically.
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Connections

Featured in Music for the Movies: Tôru Takemitsu (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A bold, sobering portrait of humanity with a plethora of important sociological footnotes demanding to be explored
21 November 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I am a pioneer to the films of Shohei Imamura. I've been aware of his legacy, which ranks alongside other Japanese directors such as Yasujiro Ozu and Akira Kurosawa, for a long time but I've only just started to expose myself to his creative prowess. The first and only Imamura movie that I have seen to date is his 1989 film "Black Rain" unrelated to the Michael Douglas thriller of the same name. And all I can say is that based on this one experience, I am more than ecstatic to continue delving into this artist's plethora of films.

Mr. Imamura was celebrated for the way that he provocatively told stories that exposed the good and bad in not mankind, but the society of his own country. In this film, for example, he examines the effects of the bombing of Hiroshima on a small group of people. However, as one would not expect from a Japanese filmmaker (or any director, regardless of his race) he does not go for a sentimental approach. He does not go for a cheap shot plot that could be worked into a target for political controversy and false anti-American accusations.

"Black Rain" is not about who dropped the bomb or why it was dropped. What it is about is the way that the bombing or Hiroshima and Nagasaki influenced not only the physical health of Japanese people, but their morality and sense of ethics. After the movie's sobering open, it follows an aunt and uncle and their attempts to find a husband for their niece. The problem is that all three of them were exposed to the radiation of the H-bomb and have, in many ways, been shunned by those who were fortunate enough to escape the nuclear holocaust. During this time, radiation poisoning was like a scarlet letter: a label forewarning the healthy from the condemned as if the victims of Hiroshima had brought this tragedy upon themselves. Just as people in the United States turned on each other after the loss of the Vietnam War, the people of Japan turned on each other following their loss. And Mr. Imamura shows that with astounding detail.

That great New York Times critic Vincent Canby made a sobering remark in his excellent review of the film. Mr. Imamura's intent was not to make us weep, but to open our eyes and make us think about our own morality. Because after all, isn't there a fair amount of scapegoating placed upon people with tuberculosis, cancer, and AIDS in our own society?

Mr. Imamura, like his peer Akira Kurosawa, was clearly an artist with an eye for detail. It can be found all throughout his film, but just look at the opening sequence, depicting the bombing. There is a real sense of horror in the movie as we see the mushroom cloud, the poisonous black rain, and finally the decimation of the city itself. As many characters in this scene note, "Hiroshima is gone" and replaced with an apocalypse created by man.

Mr. Imamura co-wrote the screenplay with Toshiro Ishido and created a very memorable story. He has also has a great cast. Kazuo Kitamura and Etsuko Ichihara are convincing both physically and psychically as the aunt and uncle fearing their own deaths but hoping for a better life for their niece. She is played by Yoshiko Tanaka, a very good actress whom Godzilla fans will likely recognize. Supporing performances are created by Shoichi Ozawa, Keisuek Ishida, Akiji Kobayashi, and many others, all of whom help complete this magnificent, haunting portrait of humanity.

"Black Rain" is a very, very good movie that I think should be required study in not only film and film history classes, but sociology as well. For there is a lot of psychological footnotes made by Mr. Imamura regarding society, ethics, and social status. And furthermore, he had the guts not to wrap up with a throwaway ending, but an ending that leaves you in the place of many Japanese people of the late 40s/early 50s: hoping for the best, but fearing the worst.


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