The film follows the last 2 decades in the life of Hyakken Uchinda, a writer and teacher who retires in the war years of the early 1940's. His students venerate him in his old age, and join him and his family each year for a ritual birthday party, asking "are you ready?" to which he answers, "not yet," acknowledging that death may be near, but life still goes on.
Kurosawa is considered to be one of the greatest filmmakers of all time and this, his final and touching film, is the perfect ending to a lifetime of cinematic achievements.
Akira Kurosawa was 83 years old when he made this, his serenely glorious final film. Kurosawa's eyesight was failing, so Madadayo would be the master's farewell to filmmaking, and one can hardly imagine a more lovely and loving way to end one of the greatest careers in motion picture history. Based on the literary works of Japanese author Hyakken Uchida, the film presents Uchida as its central character (named only "The Professor"), and begins in war-torn Tokyo with the sensei's retirement from teaching in 1943. He is considered "solid gold" by his legacy of former students, who support their beloved teacher as he focuses on writing and throw annual birthday parties in his honor. Each year they ask "Maadha kai?" ("Are you ready?"), to which the aging professor responds, "Madadayo!" ("Not yet!"), acknowledging that he will die someday, but only when he's ready.
While Madadayo may not be autobiographical, the professor (played with charming grace by Tatsuo Matsumura) is clearly Kurosawa--a beloved master reflecting on life, continuing to teach, and expressing gratitude for a long and rewarding career that was "not yet" over. This is a calm and simple film of peaceful resolution, in which the only major crisis is the loss of a cat--an episode both heartbreaking and, finally, as life affirming as the professor's benevolent wisdom. And while Kurosawa was criticized for being sentimental when Madadayo was released in Japan in 1993 (it didn't reach Western shores until 2000), there's an important distinction to be made between sentiment and the twilight serenity of one of the cinema's most eloquent humanitarians. Closing with a final dream image that's as beautiful as only dreams can be, Madadayo is, in its own way, as miraculous as any of Kurosawa's previous masterworks. --Jeff Shannon
"Madadayo" is an unflinchingly sentimental film, in the same vein as "It's a Wonderful Life." It is a story that only an old man could have told, dealing with the love of growing... Read morePublished on March 11 2003 by Zack Davisson
Madadayo brings you to Japan during the years of World War II and years the war. During these years the story is based around an old teacher is retiring and ends up in a... Read morePublished on May 8 2002 by Swederunner
I first saw this movie at a Japanese film festival, and I was immediately entraced. It is the first Kurosawa films I have ever seen, and it has left me longing to watch the rest of... Read morePublished on April 19 2002 by lemonzest
This film is without question one of the best films i have ever seen! It's a great example of how Kurosawa could impart immense beauty and meaning into simple and visualy stunning... Read morePublished on Jan. 2 2002 by christopher pruzynski
Too bad Kurosawa's last movie is such a schlocky treacle-fest. I understand that he wanted to write a kind of final love letter to his fans and admirers and students, but this one... Read morePublished on Sept. 7 2001 by James Robert Smith
Madadayo - A movie about respect... for teachers, for elders, for friends. It's a movie about dedication to those that have influenced us. Read morePublished on Aug. 5 2001 by Miheal F. Herrera
I think this film would be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in Japanese culture. This film depicts the lifelong relationship between teacher and student over a course of many... Read morePublished on July 25 2001 by Steven Carroll
Kurosawa Akira's last film "Madadayo" is a quiet sentimental film.Published on June 13 2001 by Michael Hinojos