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I read a review of "Blue Spring" on a movie festival page, and thought it sounded interesting at the very least. I purchased it blindly, hoping it would live up to some of the rave reviews it received. Not only did it live up to it's billing, it replaced Takeshi Kitano's "Fireworks (Hana-bi)" as my all-time favorite movie.
From the opening scene we get the feeling that this is not your normal highschool and these are not your normal students. However, the students face problems that are extremely similar to the problems we have all had. However, we come to realize that the setting and the characters are not that different and that the story is in fact believable. This above all else is the reason why "Blue Spring" touched me so much.
The main character Kujo wins a game of "Clapping" and becames the boss of a gang at an all-boy high school. The idea of the game is to clap as many times hanging from a roof-top fence without falling to your death. At first he finds his role mildly amusing as he deals out punishment to anyone who disrespects him or his best friend Aoki. Eventually, as with everything, he grows tired of his role and begins to lose his control of the school.
Aoki is dependent on Kujo. He needs Kujo to tell him what to do, how to act. But when Kujo alienates Aoki, it sends him into a tail-spin of destruction.
The other members of the gang hit were very easy to identify with. One member devoted his entire childhood to chasing the dream of taking the baseball team to Nationals. However, when he blows their chance on the final pitch of a game, he can't get past it and is unable to move on with his life. What makes this even more difficult for us to watch is the fact that he is a tutor of sorts to a freshman student who is beginning to take the game too far and is seemingly destined to live out the same fate.
Another student has no absolutely no direction. No clue as to what he wants to do. As the time for him to decide begins to run out the pressure becomes to much for him and he commits an unbelievable act. Perhaps my favorite character in the entire film.
Other kids include many who are controlled by the whims of the leaders, some who genuinely want to get out of there and go to school and one who is cruely called "Ghost" (even by teachers) because he has a terminal illness.
The direction is simply amazing. Toshiaki Toyoda always manages to find the right angle. Some scenes are absolutely beautiful. One example is when a character waits on the rooftop after school lets out and the camera fast-forwards through the entire night and into the morning as he waits for the next day to begin. Another is when Ghost is seen running away from school, as other students contemplate his motivation. Yet another example is one student's penchant for coloring things black and there is a quick shot of him standing atop the school, which has been seemingly been painted black over night, only to have a another cut back to reality shows the school is still white leaving the viewer thinking "Did I just see that?"
Dramatic moments are intercut with shots of the beautiful cherry trees that border the school (one character takes care of them with extreme devotion), blooming flowers, clouded skylines ect. Even in moments of extreme violence or desperation we are never allowed to forget that this is a beautiful film. The soundtrack is simply one the best I've ever heard. The Japanese punk-rock fits in perfectly as it pounds our ears during slow-motion shots and equally well with chases through the school and acts of violence.
The ending of the film is unforgettable. It's one of those endings that - when the credits roll - you're just left staring and wishing it didn't end, but you know it couldn't have ended any other way. I've never given a film a 10/10 before but I whole-heartedly believe this film deserves it. It's not particularly easy to watch but it's undeniably moving and powerful.
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