Thursday, October 30, 2008

Kirschblüten – Hanami (Cherry Blossoms)

This is one exceptionally beautiful movie that even when has an old age and death related theme it will make you feel so peaceful and uplifted as deals about cultural differences between west and east.

Writen and directed by Doris Dörrie tells a story of a German family that when older Trudi, the mother, learns that his husband is sick asks him to go to Berlin to visit their two children and it is truly impressive how families in some countries in the west become strangers when people become individuals and as Dörrie says, forget about our ancestors. After visiting their children decide to go to the beach where Trudi dies. When Rudi, the husband, is left alone, none of the children want to take care of him and what follows is the most amazing story of grieving that I have seen lately, as Rudi decides to “find” Trudi and goes to the place where Trudi always wanted to go and never went. So the rest of the story happens in Japan where the youngest of their sons lives.

The tale is inspired in Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story according to what I read, so if you have seen Tokyo Story I suggest you to be kind to the western adaptation, as it is not a remake of this film, but an interpretation that totally fits current western values and the opportunity for westerners to find internal peace in the eastern values and life philosophy.

As you probably guess the film has more than outstanding cinematography while in Japan with spectacular views of Mount Fuji, but also Tokyo looks just fabulous with all the trains takes and sunsets. But really all the locations in Germany also look outstanding. Great framing with a slow pace that takes its time telling the story and the journey more than rushing to get to its destination.

One of the things that marveled me is learning a little about the Butoh dancing that I found just extraordinary. As I learned Butoh is dance of shadows and a way to keep in touch with dead ancestors. Particularly touched me what Dörrie said in an interview that I reproduce here.

As Dörrie confided: "The Butoh dancers say, 'we dance on the backs of our ancestors.' We in the West trample on them."

It touched me not only because in those societies that celebrate individualism is so true, but also the image totally represents what you will see in this movie.

Have to mention that there is a lesbian interest moment in the movie as the only daughter of Trudi and Rudi is lesbian and lives in Berlin with her partner, Franzi. The moment is small, but I found it so sweet and lovely, as is Franzi the one that takes care and is really kind to them, while their own children are not. Very nice to watch such a positive representation in the big screen.

Performances are excellent and I was taken by the character Trudi in the German moment of the movie, played by Hannelore Elsner; when in Japan I learned to appreciate the character of Rudi, played by Elmar Wepper and was totally mesmerized by Aya Irizuki that plays Yu. Then, as in many Japanese movies, the film is full of carefully shown symbolisms related to Japanese culture that if you’re familiar with them you will simply enjoy them as they happen in the screen.

The film was in competition for the Golden Bear at the 2008 Berlinale and has more nominations and wins in German film festivals, but also won the Golden Space Needle Award for Best Film at the 2008 Seattle fest.

This is a film that I strongly recommend to some of my known readers as not only is outstandingly beautiful to watch with very beautiful visuals, but also goes from a cold and stern German mood into the most peaceful Japanese mood. Then the story is compelling and the lesbian interest moments are just perfect.

I know that this movie is not for all audiences, you have to enjoy at least European cinema or art cinema to really appreciate the beauty of this film.

Me, I enjoyed the movie a lot and yes I dropped one or two involuntary tears as the story touched me thanks to the beauty of the message, the great performances and the top production values all under the very careful crafted hand of Doris Dörrie.

Big Enjoy!!!

No comments yet