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Madadayo

Tatsuo Matsumura , Kyko Kagawa , Akira Kurosawa    Unrated   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 37.59
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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

Product Description

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.


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeper than it seems March 6 2004
Format:DVD
As a fan of Kurosawa, I knew that I had to see his last film. The mixed reviews concerned me a bit. After viewing it, however, I am convinced it is one of his greatest works.
On the surface, this is a story about a beloved and somewhat child-like (in a positive way) professor in the autumn of his life. It is a touching and at times seemly overly sentimental story. There are some laugh out loud moments--the scenes with the horse, the professor's attempts to foil robbers and a student doggedly reciting all of the train stops along an extremely long route come to mind. The professor is quick-witted and warm, the acting exceptional.
Many reviewers have already given more details on the plot, so I invite you to watch and look deeper. Although I am not one given to finding allegory everywhere, there are many subtleties here that I assume are completely intentional. A director as great as Kurosawa does not randomly throw in images. So consider...The country of Japan has been torn by war, and so has the professor. We see the results of air raids--the Professor's own home and much of his town has been destroyed. The American occupation is causing changes in the Japanese way of life. Although there is no open criticism, the brief scenes involving Americans and their influences (watch for them!) show you that the Japanese characters find them incomprehensible and aren't sure what to make of them. Additionally, as the film progresses, there is a subtle influx of Western influences-more English words, American customs etc. The Professor is caught between the old Japan and the new. The scene between the kindly neighbor and the callous new landowner illustrate this.
Nowhere is this conflict apparent than in the scene with the missing cat.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Kurosawa's last film -- a quiet masterpiece Jan. 16 2004
By audrey
Format:DVD
This was Akira Kurosawa's final film, and appropriately it fell into the camp of his quieter, more reflective films. It is the story of a full life that takes place after most would say that life is over, the story of a teacher's experiences after retirement -- filled with drama, heartbreak, tragedy, joy and the love and devotion of his former students, who care for the aging man and his loyal wife, giving him a birthday party each year in which part of the ritual becomes the cry and response of his students chanting: Maadha Kai (ready?) and his reply: Madadayo (not yet!) -- he is not ready to die.
In the film's final scene, several students watch over the professor as he sleeps. He has been ill and they wonder what he is dreaming about. We become privy to the dream -- the professor is a young boy playing hide-and-seek. The children are waiting for him to hide, calling out Maadha Kai (are you ready?) and as he searches in the hay piles for a place to hide, he replies Madadayo (not yet), until he is distracted by the beautiful sky, and pauses to look at the surreal swirling clouds.
One cannot see this film without thinking of Kurosawa himself, surrounded by those who loved and respected him, enjoying life, looking back and dreaming of his past (Akira Kurosawa's Dreams had come out three years before). A lovely film which will be enjoyed by many but appreciated most by Kurosawa fans.
DVD extras include a trailer, filmographies and 6 beautiful watercolor storyboard illustrations. The film is in Japanese with optional English subtitles.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Kurosawa's final film -- a quiet masterpiece Jan. 16 2004
By audrey
Format:DVD
This was Akira Kurosawa's final film, and appropriately it fell into the camp of his quieter, more reflective films. It is the story of a full life that takes place after most would say that life is over, the story of a teacher's experiences after retirement -- filled with drama, heartbreak, tragedy, joy and the love and devotion of his former students, who care for the aging man and his loyal wife, giving him a birthday party each year in which part of the ritual becomes the cry and response of his students chanting: Maadha Kai (ready?) and his reply: Madadayo (not yet!) -- he is not ready to die.
In the film's final scene, several students watch over the professor as he sleeps. He has been ill and they wonder what he is dreaming about. We become privy to the dream -- the professor is a young boy playing hide-and-seek. The children are waiting for him to hide, calling out Maadha Kai (are you ready?) and as he searches in the hay piles for a place to hide, he replies Madadayo (not yet), until he is distracted by the beautiful sky, and pauses to look at the surreal swirling clouds.
One cannot see this film without thinking of Kurosawa himself, surrounded by those who loved and respected him, enjoying life, looking back and dreaming of his past (Akira Kurosawa's Dreams had come out two years before). A lovely film which will be appreciated most by Kurosawa fans.
DVD extras include a trailer, filmographies and 6 beautiful watercolor storyboard illustrations. The film is in Japanese with optional English subtitles.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fine curtain call Nov. 15 2003
Format:DVD
Kurosawa's last film, while maybe not a "powerful" film like "Ran" or "Seven Samurai" does still pack a wonderful emotional punch as a study of the last decades of an old professor's life, starting from his retirement to his death. The title "Madadayo" is Japanese for "Not yet" and is the response given by the professor when asked "Mahka kai?" ("Are you ready?") at his birthday celebrations, meaning whether or not he is ready for death.
This film, like many of Kurosawa's works, is a character study. The old man has many admirers from former pupils and old friends, and he is full of wit and wisdom. The film chronicles many interesting aspects from his life's last years, including the loss of a favorite cat and the gain of another. If you can enjoy a film for its fascinating characters, then you can enjoy this film.
Many film makers have died with a film that barely holds up as even a classic. Kurosawa, thankfully, has left us a final film that asks questions about life, death, and the time we have on earth. It certainly deserves to be considered a milestone.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Grow old in peace and love
"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 more
Published on March 11 2003 by Zack Davisson
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Yet!
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 more
Published on May 9 2002 by Kim Anehall
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best movies I have seen.
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 more
Published on April 19 2002 by lemonzest
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect fim!
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 more
Published on Jan. 2 2002 by christopher pruzynski
2.0 out of 5 stars What a revolting development!
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 more
Published on Sept. 7 2001 by James Robert Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable for Kurasawa fans and those with patience
Madadayo - A movie about respect... for teachers, for elders, for friends. It's a movie about dedication to those that have influenced us. Read more
Published on Aug. 5 2001 by Miheal F. Herrera
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Cultural Portrait
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 more
Published on July 25 2001 by Steven Carroll
3.0 out of 5 stars Kurosawa's Last Film
Kurosawa Akira's last film "Madadayo" is a quiet sentimental film.
Published on June 13 2001 by Michael Hinojos
5.0 out of 5 stars The Master's Fairwell
Shortly into this movie, I realized that the sensei may have been a real person in history, but Kurosawa selected his life to represent his own. Read more
Published on May 21 2001 by Charlotte A. Hu
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