Japanese filmmakers have a gift for translating the tenets of humanist thought onto celluloid. Akira Kurosawa created several such masterpieces, from Ikiru to the triumphant Red Beard; Shunji Iwai contributed the wacky but thought-provoking Swallowtail; Juzo Itami gave us Daibyonin (The Last Dance) and this little treasure.
Iiyo is regarded as one of society's unfortunates, a "retard" as one schoolgirl exclaims, but he has a lovely, even enviable world view, one which, admittedly, the people closest to him are slow to pick up on. In fact, the "normal" folks in this film seem almost neurotic, as they manufacture complex and troublesome meanings and motives to explain Iiyo's behavior.
Long ago, a college professor advised me and 499 classmates to try to experience the world through the eyes of a severely handicapped person. He promised that it would be a most rewarding exercise. Juzo Itami captured this sentiment on film in a beautiful and thoughtful way.
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