- Actors: Richard Gere, Sachiko Murase, Hisashi Igawa
- Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC, Import
- Language: Japanese
- Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Fox Video (Canada) Limited
- Release Date: July 1 2003
- Run Time: 98 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- ASIN: B00008ZZ9O
Rhapsody in August (Sous-titres français) [Import]
The final film released in the U.S. by Japanese master Akira Kurosawa looks at the atomic blast at Nagasaki from a distance of more than 40 years, through the eyes of a woman who survived it--and the grandchildren who are spending the summer with her. Though she tries not to think about it, the memory of the bombing is with her every day, in the family she lost and the scars she still carries. But the grandchildren insist on seeing the memorial, which brings it home to her once again--and to us. Though sometimes slow going (and what is Richard Gere doing in this movie, as her Amer-Asian nephew?), Rhapsody in August is a story about family and about living in the present while never being allowed to forget the past. --Marshall Fine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Later on, we hear of a rich Japanese-American son-in-law from Hawaii, played by Richard Gere (speaking in Japanese!), whose purpose inadvertently points out that American and Japanese perceptions of the atomic bombings may never be reconciled. By using Gere's character as somehow an apologist for the Nagasaki anniversary, I think Kurosawa makes a mistake by seeking simple answers for the bombing and the war, when there are none.
The story threads have enormous potential, but never reach a real emotional impact. The film feels restless, and never achieves the kind of sensitivity and patience it really requires to let the theme resonate.
One of the dichotomies of the film is that the theme is largely approached from the children's perspective, which makes a lot of sense, although it never allows us close enough to their grandmother's story to carry enough weight.
I was also disappointed by the fact that Kane, who begins the story with a great deal of dignity, becomes increasingly delusional over the course of the film and comes to resemble a Kurosawa character from a decade earlier. The film ends with that unfortunate image of her, and it undermines the very message of the film itself.
There are two signature Kurosawa moments which make the film worth seeing by themselves. One is a symbolic shot as Gere's attention diverts to watch a trail of ants climbing a lovely rose. The second shot is of the children as they look in a window at their grandmother and her friend as they sit completely silent, highlighting the distance between the generations.
I will not attempt to justify this film as greater than it is just because of the master's cinematic history. This is far from a five-star film, and it easily ranks in the lower third of Kurosawa's portfolio. It is an interesting movie, with a few memorable scenes, but no one should mistake this for any of his classics. Two-and-a-half stars.
It starts with children's feelings and thoughts about that day. These children are grandsons of a teacher dead by the bomb, and live in Nagasaki.
The parents' attitude follows. They try to live better and not to suffer, even more, not to remember or make people remember that day.
Next is the story of the survivors of the bomb. The grandmother, who lost her husband, and the classmates of children killed by the bomb.
Finally, the mind and heart of the Nikkei (descendant of Japanese). This is a double situation: He is not only a descendant of Japanese, but also of USA nationality.
The story is directed well. The characters are defined clearly.
However, please note that this is not a documentary film. You could make your opinion about Nagasaki and the bomb based on the arguments (most of them true) of the movie, but it wouldn't be enough.
Also because this is a movie, you'll enjoy some funny or artistic parts it offers to you. Besides, you would learn about some Japanese costumes and tales.
A final note: If you try to study Japanese watching this work, beware: The grandmother talks with namari (local accent).
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