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The Sea Is Watching More at IMDbPro »Umi wa miteita (original title)

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23 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

A sweet and authentic film

8/10
Author: wilted_iris from Florida
9 November 2004

Contrary to some people's summaries, the women depicted in the film are not geisha. They are oiran (prostitutes) living outside the most famous pleasure districts, and their lives and experiences represent the lives of a great number of Tokugawa era women. I can't say the stories were particularly enlightening, but their charm lies in just how typical they are. The themes are universal and everyday: love, friendship, and sacrifice.

I did greatly enjoy the art direction and the acting. I felt like I was getting a glimpse of a time and place I can never otherwise glimpse. The actors, especially the 4 women who played the main oiran, were a thrill to watch. I'd only recommend this movie to people who want a taste of Japanese culture, or to those who enjoy quiet and emotional stories. It's a great example of both.

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25 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

lack of knowledge maybe?

10/10
Author: esilabet from Montreal, Canada
12 April 2004

I can understand those who dislike this movie cause of a lack of knowledge.

First of all, those girls are not Geisha, but brothel tenants, and one that don't know the difference will not understand half of the movie, and certainly not the end. This is a complete art work about the women's life and needs in this era. Everything is important, and certainly the way they dress, all over the movie means more than words. To those who thought it was a boring geisha movie, I'll suggest you to read a bit about this society before making a conclusion that is so out of the reality. This is Kurosawa's work of is life, and I'm sure that the director understood the silent meaning of Kurosawa's piece to the right intellectual range.

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18 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

A Feast of Cinema

10/10
Author: choden from paro
23 August 2004

A wonderful film to watch with astonishing scenes and talented actors, such as Misa Shimizu and Nagiko Tono. After 15 minutes of watching, your eyes get locked on the screen and you do nothing but breathing in the atmosphere of the film waiting what the destiny will bring to the characters. This film makes you leave your position as a standard audience, it takes you in, it makes you a part of the story... Costumes and settings are brilliant; especially the district of the okiyas is skillfully built. It is definitely not very Akira Kurosawa, however it still gets a lot from the master, especially the stylistic story telling tells us we're in a distinguished land of cinema which is quite far from hollywoodish flamboyance.

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13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

A precious gem of a movie

Author: sekander from Thailand
26 September 2004

Finally, after 2 years, my Japanese roommate hunted down this DVD.

This was the screenplay Kurosawa was working on when he died. While it isn't on the grand scale of some of the master's works, and it was directed by one of his disciples, it is a precious gem-burnished and gleaming as you inspect it from all angles. What a deft touch making the lives of prostitutes so compelling, and in the final scene, even heroic. The featurette with the DVD shows how Kurosawa was enamored with the "chic" of old Edo. It goes a long way to explaining the loving look of the film. Not to mention, the opening music theme is haunting and entrancing.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

must see!!

9/10
Author: turtle_chokers from Philippines
31 March 2005

A tragically wonderful movie... brings us to a Japan that does not exist anymore. Despite Hollywood's technical expertise, I have yet to see a (hollywood) movie that can match the authenticity of the atmosphere in this small town by the river near the sea... Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai looked liked the last installment of the Lord of The Rings in trying to capture rural Old Japan.

If you like serene but intense story lines, this is a must see film. It will be a respite from hollow flashy films much like the last 1000 blockbusters you saw. I think this is one of Kurosawa's better stories.

Even if it's a movie about geishas and brothels and the complicated rules that govern life in such settings, it did not turn into a skin flick. The characters are full of depth and act with much intensity.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A charming movie

9/10
Author: jodilyn from US
10 November 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm not sure how I missed this one when it first came out, but I am glad to have finally seen it.

This movie takes place in and around the 19th century red light district of Okabasho, Japan. It tells the tale of prostitution, caste systems and women who are strong in a society based upon the strength of the samurai code of Japan.

It is uniquely Akira Kurosawa! Even though he died before he could direct this movie, his adaptation of the screenplay shows. His view of the Japanese world and caste system is renowned and sheds light upon how these systems interact with each other. The characters may revolve around each other, but the caste system stays intact when each character goes back to the world they belong in. The samurai warrior who drifts into the good hearted and loving prostitute's world goes back to his life, while she embarks on a another road with a man who is part of her caste system..lowest of the low. Many prize the world of the samurai above all others, but yet, it is the lower caste inhabitants who can support each other and who can love without restraint. The samurai in this movie turns out to be the weak one, while the classless lovers prove to be the honorable ones.

The movie deserves a higher rating. It is a tale of survival of women in feudal Japan. During this time frame, men were thought to be the survivors..the strong ones while women were thought to be just mindless and weak property. This movie highlights the strength of Japanese women and how they did what they had to for survival, and how their strength enabled the Japanese culture to continue on as it has.

I recommend "The Sea is Watching" to anyone who is a fan of Akira Kurosawa and even if they're not a fan. It is a lovely, quiet and soul sustaining movie, and one to be treasured for any movie collection.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A portrait of women

8/10
Author: frojavigdis from Pacific Northwest
23 January 2004

My boyfriend and I both enjoyed this film very much. The viewer is swept away from modern life into old Japan, while at the same time exposed to very current themes. The characters are realistic and detailed; it has an unpredictable ending and story, which is very refreshing. The story is made up of mini-plots within the life of several geisha living together in a poor city district. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who is interested in a realistic romance or life in old Japan.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

In Memoriam: Akira Kurasawa

8/10
Author: gradyharp from United States
28 November 2005

'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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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

I love this film

Author: aet2n from Virginia, USA
25 September 2004

This has become one of my all time favorite films. The cinematography is beautiful; it has an interesting plot; I like the characters. I am not crazy about some of Akira Kurosawa's samurai flicks (he wrote this movie) but I adore this film. This is probably my favorite Japanese film. I highly recommend it. I don't think you have to know anything about Japanese culture either. I heard that one criticism of Kurosawa's works is that he doesn't have many roles for women and tends to focus on men. This film really shows his ability to write about women and create wonderful women characters. But the great thing is that it isn't just character development. There is a good plot also. Everyone should see this film

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

one word,masterpiece

Author: bosscain from USA
15 May 2004

this movie just goes to show that you dont need big explosions,muti-billion dollar computer graphics,or highly over paid actors and actresses to make a good movie, All you need is a excellent story line and plot. which the master of all japanese films,Akira Kurosawa pulls off brilliantly. I recommend this film to all that love a epic period piece. and for those that enjoy Kurosawas earlier works. 10/10

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