19th century. Oshin is a prostitute in a brothel of a red-light district. A disgraced samurai, Fusanosuke, rushes in the brothel seeking for a refuge, because he had wounded a powerful ... See full summary »
During the time of change of the mid-19th Century, Yaichiro is bid farewell by his fellow samurai friends Munezo and Samon as he leaves their clan's fiefdom on the northwest coast of Japan ... See full summary »
On a fishing boat at sea, a 60-year old man has been raising a girl since she was a baby. It is agreed that they will get married on her 17th birthday, and she is 16 now. They live a quiet and secluded life, renting the boat to day fishermen and practicing strange divination rites. Their life changes when a teenage student comes aboard...
19th century. Oshin is a prostitute in a brothel of a red-light district. A disgraced samurai, Fusanosuke, rushes in the brothel seeking for a refuge, because he had wounded a powerful samurai. Oshin hides him from the authorities and falls in love with him, against an older prostitute's, Kikuno's, misgiving. Fusanosuke advises Oshin to cleanse herself by giving up her line of work. Believing falsely that this is a promise for marriage, she turns her customers over to the other prostitutes, who are happy to help her. Funasukoke leaves to be reconciled to his family, but, when he returns, he reveals that he is engaged and is going to marry his fiancé. Some time later a desperate itinerant, Ryosuke, appears and Oshin falls in love again. Meanwhile, an older man asks Kikuno to buy her contract and marry her, but she is entangled with an old abusive customer of hers. One night, while the madam of the brothel is away to thermal baths, a storm hits the area and everybody tries to flee. ... Written by
'Umi wa miteita' ('The Sea is Watching') was Akira Kurasawa's swansong to film: his adaptation of his favored novelist Shugoro Yamamoto's story into a screenplay he intended to film was his final mark he left on a brilliant career. Director Kei Kumai pays homage to both Kurosawa and Yamamoto in presenting this visually stunning transformation of word to image.
Set in 19th century Japan, the story explores the lives of the women of a Geisha house whose sole purpose in life is to earn money by pleasuring men. The house is run by an older couple who are genteel and the geishas are an enchanting group of women who know their trade and take pride in their careers. Each has a reason for turning to the life of geisha. Oshin (Nagiko Tono) supports her family who live in a neighboring village, Kikuno (Misa Shimizu) has customers both good and evil whom she manages to sustain with her stories of her higher caste. Oshin befriends an endangered samurai, falls in love with the gentle fellow, only to find that he must not marry out of his caste and leaves his pleasures with Oshin to marry his promised betrothed. Oshin's heart bruises easily but is always supported emotionally and physically/monetarily by Kikuno and the other geishas.
A handsome samurai Ryosuke (Masatoshi Nagase) enters Oshin's life and develops the first trusted and devoted relationship with her. Kikuno is beset by problems, deciding whether to accept the humble love of an old man who wishes to marry her, and coping with a rich but abusive customer. All the while the sea is watching and as a typhoon destroys the geisha house and street, Oshin and Kikuno sit atop the roof waiting for the promised rescue by Ryosuke. The manner in which the story ends is one of sacrifice, love, and devotion. The sea is watching and will find protection for true love.
The photography by Kazuo Okuhara is breathtakingly beautiful: night scenes with glowing lanterns and colorful geisha interiors are matched with recurring glimpses of the sea both calm and turbulent. The acting is a bit strained for Edo art, but the characters are well created and keep the story credible. The one distraction which is definitely NOT something Kurosawa would have condoned is the tacky Western music score that sounds like cheap soap opera filler except for the isolated moments when real Japanese music on authentic instruments graces the track. But in the end there is enough of Kurosawa's influence to imbue this film with his brand of dreamlike wonder that will always maintain his importance on world cinema. Grady Harp
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