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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Mogari No Mori (The Mourning Forest)


Incredibly beautiful and poignant film by Naomi Kawase that will make you feel absolutely everything very intensively, but even if is really stunning to watch, after I saw it I felt very sad not necessarily because of the story, I think that it was because the serene poetic mood that the marvelous end transmits.

The film has a simple but intense story about a young caregiver, Machiko, that while grieving the death of her son bonds with senile 70 years old Shigeki that is still grieving for his wife after 33 years and together find resolution to their own loss. There are some very Japanese symbols in this movie but I feel that the sparse dialogue allows everybody to understand the meaning of almost everything, so I suggest paying attention especially to the Buddhist priest that explains the meaning of being alive and other important things.

One thing I will include that I believe will facilitate the watching of this film in the most glorious way and is something that is said at the end of the movie that goes more or less like this: the term ‘mogari’, or period of mourning comes from an older expression ‘mo agari’ meaning the end of mourning. Consequently the amazing forest takes on a symbolic meaning as the site for ‘the resolution of the mourning process’.

The absence of words, the slow pace plus the outstanding cinematography makes a film more than stunning, breathless and the mountainous region west of Nara is unbelievably amazing to look at with the forest full of looming trees and floor thick with sasa (dwarf bamboo) and the wind-swept fields where visual poetry blends with marvelous sound. Absolutely beautiful!

As you probably guessed by now this is not a film suitable for all audiences as you really have to like art cinema and more, you have to like Japanese classic films from the masters like Ozu, Mizogushi, Naruse or Kurosawa. This is important as the outstanding performances by actors and non-actors totally recall the acting in films from those filmmakers.

Machiko Ono plays Machiko and her performance is truly awesome according to non-western standards and she was honored with the Best Actress Award at the 2007 Cannes, where the movie won the Grand Prix. Since Cannes the movie was screened at many other festivals and has won many accolades.

It is truly an impressive Japanese masterpiece that I waited almost a year to be able to see and even if I felt very sad at the end, I strongly recommend the movie as a must be seen for those that love serious cinema.

Big Enjoy!!!

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