Maborosi (1995)
"Maboroshi no hikari" (original title)

 |  Drama  |  21 March 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 2,479 users  
Reviews: 36 user | 35 critic

A young woman's husband apparently commits suicide without warning or reason, leaving behind his wife and infant. Yumiko remarries and moves from Osaka to a small fishing village, yet ... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay)
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9 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Takashi Naitô ...
Gohki Kashiyama ...
Naomi Watanabe ...
Midori Kiuchi ...
Akira Emoto ...
Mutsuko Sakura ...
Hidekazu Akai ...
Hiromi Ichida ...
Minori Terada ...
Ren Ôsugi ...
Hiroshi, Yumiko's Father
Kikuko Hashimoto ...
Kiyo, Yumiko's Grandmother
Shuichi Harada ...
Takashi Inoue ...


A young woman's husband apparently commits suicide without warning or reason, leaving behind his wife and infant. Yumiko remarries and moves from Osaka to a small fishing village, yet continues to search for meaning in a lonely world. Written by Tad Dibbern <>

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Release Date:

21 March 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Illusion  »

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1.85 : 1
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Was released on DVD in France in 2010, 11 years after its 1999 theatrical release in the country. See more »


Yumiko: [Recalling her first husband's unexplained suicide] I just... I just don't understand! Why did he kill himself? Why was he walking along the tracks? It just goes around and around in my head. Why do you think he did it?
Tamio: [after giving it some thought] The sea has the power to beguile. Back when dad was fishing, he once saw a maborosi - a strange light - far out to sea. Something in it was beckoning to him, he said... It happens to all of us.
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User Reviews

A meditation on death
14 January 2003 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

In 1998 the Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda astonished those of us who feel passionately about the expressive power of cinema with "After Life" a film about the hereafter that I would claim to be one of the masterworks of the past decade. The effect of this was so mesmerising that for some time I completely forgot about "Maborosi" an earlier work that I had caught up with only a few days before. Although not in the same league, it is worth a look if only to trace the origins of the later piece. Just as "After Life is a meditation on life from the point of view of the dead, "Maborosi" reverses the process and meditates on death from the living's perspective. A young girl feels somehow responsible for the death of her grandmother whom she cannot persuade to return to the family home after she wanders off one day. As a young woman she again is unable to escape a feeling of guilt when her husband is unaccountably struck down and killed by a train. These events happen fairly quickly in the first third of the film. The rest is an elegiac account of her second marriage to a widower with a young daughter and their life together in a remote fishing community as far away from the cramped streets of the city as it is possible to imagine. With the baby son by her first husband now grown to a small boy the new family feels complete. And yet the woman still exists in a state of unease. Although there are no more disasters, there are continual reminders of the frailty of life. An elderly woman, not unlike her grandmother, takes a boat out in a storm but returns unharmed. On a later occasion she watches an anonymous funeral procession which seems held in longshot for an eternity. "Marobosi" which means "The Beckoning Light" - a clear reference to death - is full of the influences of other directors. There is that of Ozu in the many domestic interiors where the camera seldom moves, Angelopoulos in the many long held exterior vistas and even Hou Xiaoxian in the way the audience is made to concentrate hard to work out character reactions and situations given a minimum of verbal and visual information. One curious fact about the film is the way the characters either appear in shadow or middle distance so that their emotions are hard to recognise. In the end this effect of deliberately distancing the protagonists is the film's essential weakness. It gives a sense of detachment and uninvolvement that Koreeda was to overcome triumphantly in the marvellous "After Life".

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