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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


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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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars highly underated Sept. 15 2009
one of kurasawa's most emotionally moving films. everyone knows someone who is like the lead character in this movie. i found myself alternately cheering for her, and crying inside for her, as if it were a sister. all of the characters are beautifully portrayed, the costumes are gorgeous, the cinematography is top shelf. the familiar kurasawa camera tricks are all there. there are subtle (and not so subtle) statements to be found inside of his methods. the ending is nicely done, the final scene breath-takingly beautiful. if you like kurasawa, you have to have this film.
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2.0 out of 5 stars ...But The Audience Is Snoozing March 15 2004
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
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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1.0 out of 5 stars sucks Jan. 4 2004
bad directing, bad cinematography, lighting is so off and artificial in so many places, bad editing, bad cuts, bad translation in many places so unpoetically done. cheesy suggestions of the sea leading towards the end. screenplay had the makings of what Kurosawa said was going to be his best film. if he had done this, it would have been a million times better
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