Following World War II, a retired professor approaching his autumn years finds his quality of life drastically reduced in war-torn Tokyo. Denying despair, he pursues writing and celebrates his birthday with his adoring students.
This film tells the story of professor Uehida Hyakken-sama (1889-1971), in Gotemba, around the forties. He was a university professor until an air raid, when he left to become a writer and has to live in a hut. His mood has hardly changed, not by the change nor by time. Every year his students celebrate his birthday, issuing the question "Mahda kai?" (not yet?), just to hear Uehida-san's answer "Madada yo!" (No, not yet!), in a ritual of self affirmation, and desires of lasting forever. It's a very "japanese" film who portrays everyday life and customs in Japan. Written by
Jaime Moraga <email@example.com>
I have to disagree with the individual who suggests that viewers who liked Ran or Seven Samurai will like this. I think the individual who compared this to some of Ingmar Bergman's work is much nearer the mark.
If you're not ready to observe rather mundane happenings in the interest of understanding universal life experiences, you probably won't appreciate this film. It takes some serenity and patience on the part of the viewer, which however are rewarded.
The English subtitles are competent, but cannot explain everything. The word for "fool" in Japanese is written using the characters for horse and for deer; hence the stew of horse meat and venison becomes a "fool's stew." And more importantly, the title Madadayo, though correctly translated as Not Yet, is very often associated with a game of hide-and-seek, with the children who are hiding crying "madadayo!" until they've found a good spot to hide. This will serve to explain the final scene, and make it more poignant perhaps...for the Japanese too speak of returning to one's childhood in extreme old age.
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