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The Sea Is Watching

Misa Shimizu , Nagiko Tôno , Kei Kumai    DVD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Amazon.ca

To film lovers around the world, The Sea Is Watching is a welcome parting gift from Akira Kurosawa, who wrote the screenplay based on two short stories by one of his favorite authors, Syugoro Yamamoto, but was unable to make the film prior to his death in 1998. Kurosawa left detailed storyboards and production notes, entrusting veteran director Kei Kumai to bring his vision to the screen. The results are both glorious and rather mild, by Kurosawa standards, but this gentle melodrama about love, loss, and survival retains much of the peaceful optimism that informed Kurosawa's final films. Set in the 19th century Edo period, the story focuses on the prostitutes of a seaside village brothel, where the vulnerable geisha O-Shin (Nagiko Tohno) endures one heartbreaking love and a potential second, while the more cynical Kikuno (Misa Shimizu) combats misery with harmless fantasies that bolster her spirits. Nature plays a role, and a climactic typhoon has a cleansing effect, offering hope in the wake of destruction, as if the sea had been watching all along. And like the sea itself, Kurosawa's spirit washes over this beautiful film, compromised only by music that's more sentimental than Kurosawa would have allowed. -- Jeff Shannon

Product Description

A visually beautiful love story about a young geisha, O-Shin, who works in Tokyo’s red light district. When O-Shin finds herself falling in love with a samurai that fate has brought to her brothel, her sister, Kikuno secretly hopes that O-Shin can be set free of the brothel so she may love at her own will. Eventually, O-Shin meets Ryosuke, a weary, troubled customer the tide has brought to the brothel. Their relationship grows into one of respect and love. When a thunderous storm hits the brothel and all the villagers flee, O-Shin and Kikuno are left to contemplate their fate. Written by Academy Award® nominee Akira Kurosawa - his final project before his death.

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Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars ...But The Audience Is Snoozing March 15 2004
Format:DVD
There is plenty of tantalizing hyperbole plastered on the packaging of this DVD..."Akira Kurosawa's final story!" "Director hand-picked by Kurosawa's son!" But something becomes glaringly apparent 15-20 minutes in: Without the Master himself directing, you do NOT have a product that can be called a "Kurosawa film" (any more than the wretched "A-I" was truly a "Stanley Kubrick Film".) Yes, the story takes place in fuedal Japan, and there is a principal character who is a Samurai. But that fact alone does not a "Kurosawa" film make. There is a poetic sense of humanism that defined all of Kurosawa's films, whether the story was set in the 15th century or in the 20th, and that is sadly missing from "The Sea Is Watching" . Kurosawa would take his time to build a story, sometimes using long takes and protracted periods of silence, but was so "at one" with filmic language that he kept you riveted to story and character without having to glance at your watch. "The Sea Is Watching" has long takes, but here they are static and lifeless, with little attention to lighting or cinematography; you end up with the feel of a TV soap. The first three quarters of the film takes place in two rooms, and by the time the rather pedestrian "big storm" sequence arrives, you don't really care what becomes of the characters because you've been waiting so interminably for SOMETHING to happen. Some lovely imagery toward the end of the film arrives too little, too late to save it. Diehard Kurosawa "completists" may want to screen at least once to satisfy curiosity, anyone else view at your own risk.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A tale of hope and sorrow, beautifully told.... Feb. 21 2004
Format:DVD
I am not a vetran to subbed films, I however, found this film particularly refreshing compared to some of the trash they insist to put in american movies. The script (from what i could tell according the the subtitles) was intelligent and meaningful. Along with the two refreshing love stories, i found the scenes of the ocean and fields very picturesque.
The Romance element was sweet. This film very accuratly depicted the risks one takes in the development of a relationship. The story with the young samurai was tragic, and in many ways realistic. For in the end, the castes, and misinterperated intentions, occur in many ways. The case of the misfortunate man, was equally moving and logical. But beyond this, was the devotion the girls in the teahouse had for each other.
I found some of the scenes (like the milky way scene) too unbelieveable,but only suceeeded to make it more charming. So i deducted the star for lagging on abit where it could have cut some useless scenes. (but who am i to critcize, i cant even spell)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful Jan. 3 2004
Format:DVD
This is the story of a year in the life of a small house of prostitution in Edo's "Floating World" (entertainment district), particularly of the manager Miss (second in command, who takes over when the owner "Missus" dies), and of one of the 'girls' O-Shin who, as one character comments, "has a good heart; she just shouldn't keep giving it away."
The film begins with the bright side of the district and their life, its gaiety, camaraderie and even tranquility. The setting and story are so delightful and cheerful that after a few minutes I was inspired to pause the DVD and go fix a cup of steaming ko-kei cha and a plate of tea biscuits. A young samurai, fleeing the law after a fight, begs to stay the night. They hide him, disguising him as a commoner customer of O-Shin's. After a chaste night, he leaves with gratitude and we can see on her face that she is taken with him. Miss cautions her against falling in love, and when he comes to see her O-Shin sends him away, saying never return, believing he is forever beyond reach. He is in exile from his father's house, and must go in disguise, yet he keeps returning as the seasons turn, being turned away. One day, though, O-Shin runs after him, meeting on a wintry bridge. The others debate her wisdom, but becoming convinced of his devotion, and particularly when in the spring he earnestly explains she can lose her 'fallen woman' status by remaining 'pure' for some time, they offer to take on her customers yet share the proceeds. Everyone expects something to come of this, and they are involved and hopeful, seeing hope for themselvers if only by proxy. Some reluctantly, some eagerly, they come to believe the fairy tale will really happen.
Needless to say it does not work out (that shouldn't be a spoiler ..
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4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting look at 19th Century Japan Jan. 2 2004
Format:DVD
I checked this DVD out more for my wife than myself. Sice reading "Memoirs of a Geisha," she's had a fascination with geishas and Japan. I've always been fascinated by Japan, although I must admit I am not a big Japanese film buff.
In fact, I've only seen one previous Akira Kurosawa film, "The Seven Samurai." "The Sea is Watching" is not actually by Kurosawa, although he wrote the screenplay and did story boards for the film before his death. The director, Kei Kumai, who completed the project, was hand picked by Kurosawa's son. Since I'm not a Kurosawa expert, I can't really comment on how true Kumai is to Kurosawa's spirit.
However, I can say that the film is excellent, a very involving tale focusing on O-Shin, a geisha seeking true love who has a bad habit of thinking she is in love only to learn her suitors feel differently. O-Shin is emotionally shattered when a samurai, who she believes loves her, indicates he is going to marry someone else.
But, she then meets a commoner, Ryosuke, whom she falls in love with. Ryosuke, however, is a troubled man and prospects with him do not look promising as he is apparently bent on taking vengence on someone (literally anyone) for past wrongs he has endured. The film climaxes when a storm strikes and the village O-Shin lives in is flooded and destroyed.
Although at times somewhat a little too detailed and draggy, this is a fascinating look at life in a small 19th century village and a lifestyle (that of the geisha) that has largely faded away in modern times.
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