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.
Probably the most irritating of phrases in Japanese for me is the above, translatable as 'When it comes down to it Japanese people are (insert complimentary adjective of your choice). In other words confirmation of self-image by selective cherry picking of 'facts', narratives and opinions.
If nonsense like this film was made in Germany there would be some serious debate about the politics behind its creation. 'The Reader' or 'Letters from Iwo Jima' make this film look like a tale told by an idiot. For anybody out there who is wondering why I dislike this film so much I'll go over the salient clichés that have been bolstering prejudice and self-pity in Japanese war films since 1951.
1. Focus on the end of the war 2. No mention of the origins of the Pacific war, or Japanese aggression in China 3. Central figure is an innocent with no malicious intent 4. Central figure endures suffering, but has never intentionally caused harm to others 5. Non-Japanese are portrayed as unreasonable and brutish 6. Wide shot of destruction of Japanese cities that directly show, or reference the atomic bomb
The level of self-deception and basic dishonesty about WWII in Japan is stupefying, and just to put this into perspective, Britain, which I love as my home country, and the US, are experts at glossing over unpleasant instances of their savagery. But at least there is plenty of room for discovering and showing historical realities.
2 out of 10 because some of the cinematography was pretty good.
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