Postcard (2010) Poster


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Virulently anti-war polemic...formulaic in places, quirky, but heartfelt
KFL2 June 2012
This was the last film of Kaneto Shindo, who died just a few days ago, age 100, and was known for such landmark films as Onibaba and Black Cat.

Shindo knew war...he was one of only six survivors of his 100-man unit in the Japanese navy during WWII. And as recounted in a recent obituary in the NY Times, he felt the weight of his 94 compatriots keenly, and sends them a final prayer in this last film of his.

The first third of the film is relentlessly grim. The Morikawa family is hit harder than most by the war: eldest son Sadazou is conscripted, and en route to the Philippines and certain death, receives a postcard from his wife Tomoko, but is unable to send her a meaningful response, due to strict censorship. He dies, his younger brother Sanpei is also conscripted and also dies, and the elderly father and mother die in short order, leaving Tomoko quite alone in a farmhouse by herself.

Before dying, however, Sadazou has asked a bunkmate to bring the postcard back to his wife if he does not return. This fellow, Matsuyama, has been betrayed by his wife and father, and when he finally brings the postcard to call on Tomoko, can only marvel at the latter's constancy in contrast.

A mooted move to Brazil and other unexpected plot twists keep the viewer guessing. Some humor is injected by a would-be paramour of Tomoko's. All in all, a film that brings home the pointless waste and enormous suffering inflicted by war.

The final takeaway: In the end, we bury our dead, we try to pay our respects, but we have to find our own way forward as best we can.
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Great to be alive!
Kicino5 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I expected to cry bitterly before watching this but instead I felt warm and hopeful afterwards.

Destiny/fate is an eternal subject in Eastern philosophy. It is something we cannot fight against. Therefore, just live with what you have. Try your best and let fate do the rest. This is the philosophy adopted by our two protagonists: Tomoko Morikawa (Shinobu Ohtake)'s husband Sadazou Morikawa (Naomasa Musaka) died in the war and she was asked to remarry his younger brother who also died shortly afterwards. Soon, her parents-in-law passed away and she became the only survivor in her husband's family. But she did not give up and lived on to "curse war."

Equally unfortunate was Keita Matsuyama (Etsushi Toyokawa) who seemed to be lucky to have survived from the war but found his wife ran away with his father. Disillusioned, he lost direction and wanted to escape, a blatant anti-war message. A postcard handed by his colleague Sadazou brought him to his widow, Tomoko.

As Tomoko said repeatedly regarding their fate: kuji da (the lottery). Everything was caused by the lottery. Who decided the kuji? Destiny. What appeared to be good may not be good and what seemed to be bad may not be bad at all eventually. We only need to stay alive to find out what life lays ahead of us. Like Forrest Gump said, "Life is a box of chocolate. You never know what you're gonna get." Here East and West meets. To find out what we are going to get, it is important to be alive.

The film opened with some dark humor in crisp scenes to ridicule the drafting and sacrificing for the country. The camera-work was orderly, clear cut and precise to show the rigid obedience to the military. There was no way out even though Tomoko's second husband wanted to escape. Also wanted to escape was Keita who were drifting to start a new life in Brazil. However, like Tomoko said, he was only escaping from reality. Shinobu Ohtake and Etsushi Toyokawa were superb in portraying the remembrance of her husband and the rapid development of the two war- battered individuals' relationship.

My favorite scene was the last few minutes when they relied on the earth and their physical strength to breed hope and life. The full grown wheat in the soft autumn breeze showed immense power of being alive – there was no big house or material possessions, but there was food and hope. All their hard work was paid off and they enjoyed a hard-earned lunch. It was great to be alive.

I am glad that director Shindo Kaneto was alive from the war so he could make this movie when he was 99. There is probably a reason why we are still alive. Let's find out why and make good use of ourselves.
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A kinder, gentler Shindo.
godgetsmepumped28 August 2015
In a career that spanned about 70 years, Kaneto Shindo directed 45 films and wrote 171. That is, 171 of his scripts were turned into films. 171.

This was the last movie he made, a year before he died at age 100. He wrote it, of course. He was 99 years old when he directed this film. He was 99 years old when he directed this film. He was 99 years old when he directed this film. He was 99 years old when he directed this film. He was 99 years old when he directed this film. He was 99 years old when he directed this film.

It tells the story of two bunkmates during WWII. One is being shipped off to the front in Manila and has just received a postcard from his wife. He tells his mate, Matsuyama, that he will not survive, and to return the postcard to his wife, letting her know he received it. Any response he would make would be heavily censored. Out of sheer luck, Matsuyama never seen battle, survives the war, and heads off to return the postcard to his mate's widow. Despite a multitude of tragedies and some serious displays of emotion, this is a lighter, kinder Shindo, one I'm not used to. I'm reminded of Kurosawa's final films, 'Madadayo' and 'Rhapsody in August.' The films have a straightforwardness in style and narrative and pace in common. That's not to say that this is a boring, frivolous film. Not at all -- it is entirely engaging and emotionally involving. 8/10.
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