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The story of 16-year-old Riyo who journeys to Hawaii in 1918 to marry a man she has never met, except through photographs and letters they have exchanged. Hoping to escape a troubled past and to start anew, Riyo is bitterly disappointed upon her arrival: her husband is twice her age and Hawaii is not the paradise she expected. As Riyo comes to terms with her new home, she discovers a land full of hardship, struggle--and unexpected joy.Written by
Originally scheduled to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 1994 but was withdrawn at the filmmakers' request and instead premiered the following year. See more »
Sometimes, even now, when the winds are blowing real hard I think can hear Kana singing. But the singing is not Kana. It's the voice of my daughter singing her daughter to sleep. But when I close my eyes, I can still see the moon lighting up the cane fields, like the ocean that carried me home... to Hawaii.
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I saw this when it premiered and just re-watched it on IFC again. This is a great telling of the many possible stories about the immigrant farmworker population that came to Hawai'i to work the sugar plantations in the early 1900's. My grandparents were part of that migration; my parents were born on a Kohala plantation (Big Island) at the time setting of the movie. I moved to the Big Island over a year ago after living in California for over 30 years. I was surprised to see that many of the former cane growing lands are still undeveloped, with wild cane still growing, years after the plantations closed. I've heard many stories from my aunts and uncles who were kids growing up on the plantation. This movie helps to image those kinds of stories and memories. This story is more of an historical document than a romantic plot-driven movie. It leaves me shaking my head to read a review like ccthemovieman's. Some people just don't get it.
I didn't recall that Youki Kudoh had the starring role, with which she did an incredible job. I recall her great performances in Jim Jarmusch's "Mystery Train" and in an Australian film, co- starring with Russell Crowe, "Heaven's Burning". Tamlyn Tomita did a great job with her pidgin English, especially for someone who didn't grow up in the Islands. I had forgotten that Toshiro Mifune had a cameo role as the moving picture show narrator. And I missed the fact that Jason Scott Lee had an uncredited, non-speaking part as one of the plantation workers during the payday scene.
I was saddened to find out that the director and co-writer, Kayo Hatta, died in an accidental drowning in 2005.
There are two other excellent foreign films that mirror this cane plantation experience: "Gaijin" about the immigrant cane workers in Brazil (many of them Japanese) in the same time period; and "Sugar Cane Alley" about the cane plantation experience in Africa. The latter is still available, but "Gaijin", sadly, doesn't appear to have been shown in quite a while. Another great film about the early Asian in America experience when immigrants were more like slaves is "A Thousand Pieces of Gold". This was set over the Chinese workers' involvement in the building of the railroad, starred Rosalind Chao, Chris Cooper, Michael Paul Chan, and Dennis Dun.
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