Rhapsody in August (1991) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Three generations' responses to the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

  • An elderly woman living in Nagasaki Japan takes care of her four grandchildren for their summer vacation. They learn about the atomic bomb that fell in 1945, and how it killed their grandfather.

  • Elderly Kane, a survivor of the August 9, 1945 atomic bomb blast of Nagasaki, the blast which killed her husband, still lives in the same rural house on the other side of the mountains from the city as on the day of the bomb. She was one of several siblings, the names and exact numbers which she can no longer remember, with some of them also having died on August 9, and others with whom she has long lost track. In that latter category, she is contacted by her eldest brother Suzujiro, who has only rediscovered her existence and wants to reconnect by having her come to visit him in Hawaii to where he moved in 1920. Having no emotional connection to someone she does not even remember, a skeptical Kane instead allows her two adult offspring, Tadao and Yoshie, to take her place in meeting Suzujiro and his family in Hawaii, while Kane's four minor grandchildren have their summer vacation with her, they knowing little about Nagasaki or their grandmother's life, they living in Tokyo. In a package of three letters from Hawaii, Tadao and Yoshie tell of Suzujiro and his family - including of their extreme wealth owning and operating a pineapple plantation and canning factory, and they being overwhelming "American" with Suzujiro having married a Caucasian, as has Suzujiro's only offspring, Clark - while Clark asks Kane, on his father's behalf, to come to Hawaii with the four grandchildren, as she is Suzujiro's direct tie to the rest of the family. This request and reconnection with the Hawaii side of the family raises certain emotions and feelings different between the three generations of the family. Kane is still unsure if she should go to Hawaii in her own focus on her small life outside of Nagasaki which has largely been shaped by that day forty-five years ago. Working class Tadao and Yoshie and their spouses only want to foster this new relationship if only for that connection to wealth. And the four grandchildren perhaps for the first time think about the events of WWII, especially in relation to the Americans. All these feelings and emotions may change if Suzujiro and Clark learn about Kane's husband's death from the bomb, Kane who is determined not to hide this fact from them if they, as they imply, really care about family in originally getting in touch with her.

  • The story centers on an elderly hibakusha, who lost her husband in the 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki (between 60 thousand and 80 thousand human beings in Nagasaki), caring for her four grandchildren over the summer. She learns of a long-lost brother, Suzujiro, living in Hawaii who wants her to visit him before he dies.


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