Saturday, August 09, 2008

Kaabee (Kabei - Our Mother)

This movie by 76 years-old Yôji Yamada is one of the most beautiful and sweet movies I have seen lately and even when the story is bittersweet, you cannot help but fall for all the beauty of the images, while your heart shrinks knowing what will come eventually. But I have to thank the director for omitting all the darker moments that happened during the time the story happened.

Set in 1940 Japan tells the story of a small Japanese family with the father being a professor that is against the China-Japan war and is taken to prison as a traitor. His wife Kayo, aka Kabei, and her two young daughters have to survive without him and get help from one of his students and his sister. The youngest daughter, Teyuro, tells the story and this totally helps to fall all the characters and to ease the bitter part of this story that will make you shred one or two tears.

I feel that his story, that’s based on the autobiography of Teruyo Nogami with a script co written by Yamada, is a powerful vision of family life before Japan declared war to USA and England and during Japan war with China and eventually other Asian countries. But what makes it powerful is that without direct mention or showing something related to those incidents you will feel how many atrocities touched regular citizens in Japan. In a way is similar to postwar movies from the great masters of Japanese cinema, but at the same time is very different and I believe that is because the story is told from a nine year-old point-of-view.

Worth to mention is the fact that the real-life Teruyo Nogami became Akira Kurosawa’s script supervisor for more than four decades. Her book "Waiting on the Weather" tells about her memoirs with the director and his films and it's a must be read book for Kurosawa's fans.

As a movie is impeccable with excellent tech specs that wont interfere with the storytelling that is the focus in this movie. Obviously this fact makes it accessible to wider audiences as the pace is normal, cinematography is beautiful and narrative is continuously flowing.

The movie was an official selection of the 2008 Berlinale and has honors and accolades especially in Japan. I believe that this is a very accessible Japanese movie suited for all audiences and definitively is one that I strongly recommend as a must be seen movie from contemporary Japanese cinema.

Big Enjoy!!!

P.S. I have to thank Marty for helping me to make this post more accurate. Many thanks!

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