Said to be inspired by British photographer Felice Beato, who for a time lived in 19th century feudal Japan and married a geisha named O-kiku. The plot centers on his having abandoned her (... See full summary »
Said to be inspired by British photographer Felice Beato, who for a time lived in 19th century feudal Japan and married a geisha named O-kiku. The plot centers on his having abandoned her (in order to move-on with his professional work) and his eventual return in the mid-1890s, expecting everything to be as before. Of course now, six years on, O-kiku has long gone and the story follows Beato on a journey throughout Japan, notably Nagasaki and Yokohama where he hopes to find clues as to her whereabouts (specifically because those were the places where they both traveled). Only then does this Westerner come to know from their former friends, family and acquaintances what exactly his actions meant to the abandoned girl. Written by
End of the 19th century: A photographer returns to Japan to find out his wife has vanished
The people he used to take pictures of call the photographer Felice Felice. O-Kiku has disappeared from the village they used to live in, and Felice starts searching for her. On his search he meets a retired fisherman who tells him of the birth of his only child. The next morning his empty boat is found: the man's niece tells Felice he was disappointed not to have been recognised as O-kiku's father. His former apprentice Ueno's story -- about the early days and his encounter with O-Kiku in Yokohama -- makes understanding modern Japan even harder. Felice decides to stay at the brothel in Nagasaki where O-Koma lives, one of his former models. She's the only one he can stand, as long as she stays off the sake. He finally tells her what triggered his departure from Japan: their deep mutual respect and stubbornness withheld them from living up to their feelings. Shortly before she dies of syphilis, O-Koma tells O-Kiku is to be found in the huge city of Tokyo.
What I like most about this movie is the fact that all dialogue is in Japanese. I wonder how the Dutch accent in the main character's Japanese must sound to native speakers, though I thought it sounded rather fluent. It made the sometimes awkward situations the gajin put himself into quite convincing.
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