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A flashback story of a young man, from his disgraced birth ,his harsh life and his forbidden love, until when broken-hearted, can break out in search of a place where to live means more than being alive.
I loved this movie but I feel like I should caution people about it because many will probably hate it. The plot is about five friends who reunite for the first time in the two years since graduation. At first they are overjoyed to see each other but they gradually realize that they have drifted apart due to outside influences such as love, arranged marriages, and, as is often the case in old Japanese movies, money. There is also a sub-plot that serves as a counter-point about one of the boys' uncle who once eloped with a geisha. The performances are all great and the color cinematography is beautiful. What might be a stumbling block for people is the music. There is a lot of traditional music in the movie, with many songs sung by the characters, with lots of traditional dancing thrown in as well. Kinoshita also lays on the soundtrack fairly heavily near the end of the movie to heighten the drama. It comes right up to the border of overbearing, but for me, it doesn't quite cross it.
I should point out something else about the movie that most Americans (like me) won't get. The movie takes place in an area of Japan named Aizu. There is, apparently, a famous historical event that took place there about nineteen teen aged warriors who committed suicide. The tale is referenced continually throughout the movie but the full significance of the tale and its relation to the characters will probably be lost to most non-Japanese. Regardless, the movie stands up well on its own and I heartily recommend it.
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