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Madadayo  [DVD]
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Considered to be one of cinemas greatest talents, Akira Kurosawa s final film is released in the UK for the very first time. Warm, touching and rousing, MADADAYO is the perfect bookend to a lifetime of cinematic achievements. MADADAYO follows the last two decades in the life of Hyakken Uchida (Tetsuo Matsumura), a writer and teacher who retires in the war years of the early 1940 s. Beginning in 1943 (the year Kurosawa made his first feature), he is beloved by his students and colleagues who join him each year for a birthday celebration, toasting Mahda-kai? (Are you ready?) to which his answer is always Madadayo! which means Not yet! , acknowledging that death may be near but life goes on it is both a triumphant denial of death and a gentle plea for more time. In an interview at the time of the film's release, Kurosawa said his movie is about 'something very precious, which has been all but forgotten: The enviable world of warm hearts.' He added 'hope that all the people who have seen this picture will leave the theatre feeling refreshed, with broad smiles on their faces'
"Kurosawa's has made us a marvellous gift in his last film ... a poignant poem and an acute meditation on peace and joy in life." --Martin Scorsese
Exquisite...nearly perfect ...Extraordinarily moving! --The New York Times
One of a great filmmaker s greatest works! --Chicago Tribune
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Top Customer Reviews
But the film aside (you can find good in depth reviews elsewhere), I'd like to say a few things about the DVD release itself.
It's terrible! This is one of the worst DVD transfers I have ever seen and does not do the film justice.
The picture quality is so terrible it reminds me of cheesey shot-for-TV Indian soap shows from the 80's, it's that bad, so bad it's distracting!
Also it suffers from something that many second-rate DVD production companies suffer from in that it's presented in letter-box format, meaning that if you're one of the 99% of people who buy this film and own a widescreen TV you'll be rewarded to a tiny picture squished into the centre of your screen.
The sound is also slightly out of sync, not too much to be annoying, but as I'm on a roll it felt worth mentioned (I tested this on a blu ray player, dvd player and laptop to confirm it).
So in conclusion. DO NOT BUY the YUME release of this film, in fact everything I own released by Yume has been of very poor quality.
Wait for a while and this film will be re-released by someone competent. Hopefully on blu-ray.
To be understood, this film requires from the audience a reasonable acquaintance with, and interest in, the history and society of twentieth-century Japan. Of course, a basic proficiency in Japanese language will enable one to fully appreciate the anecdotes involving written material (the main character is a witty literary figure, and the English subtitles frequently fail to render Uchida's humour and his playful use of various cultural references).Read more ›
The movie's protagonist is Hyakken Uchida (1889-1971), who was a real Japanese professor of German Literature, but in many ways he is in the movie an alter ego of Kurosawa, an aging master facing old age and death. Uchida is kind hearted sometimes to the point of naivete. Plotwise, not much really happens in this slow but rewarding film - we see Uchida the day of his retirement, facing the destruction of his home during World War II, celebrating with his former students each year in a party, finally facing illness and old age. Perhaps the biggest incident in the movie is when Uchida loses his cat. But if the plot seems slight, the movie stands out as a beautiful piece of humanist filmmaking. The quietly beautiful photography and mise en scene certainly helps.
Whilst watching the first twenty minutes of "Madadayo" I was teetering on the brink of boredom, but then the film began to weave its spell on me, and by the end had grabbed my full and rapt attention. The film is based on the life of Hyakken Uchida, a noted Japanese academic and author. The film commences just before the Second World War, and concerns the relationship between a professor of German and his former pupils, who continue to hold him as a "Living Treasure", in the Japanese tradition for someone whose great achievements merit this honour. We then follow events for the following seventeen years, as the students hold a party for his honour every year. At the party he is always asked the question "Maadha Kai", ("are you ready?") to which he responds "Madadayo" (not yet!). This alludes to an old Japanese fairy tale where an old man refuses to die.
It is almost as if Kurosawa had some premonition that this would be his last film. This is clearly a more personal work, where he wished to illustrate the virtues that he held dearest.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fine swan song from the great director. No hystrionics, but a warm and humurous reflection on the meaning of commitment, kindness and dedication in the face of old age and... Read morePublished 14 months ago by John G
i found this film boring. sorry, that's just the way i feel. charming, maybe, but it did drag on a bit. actually it dragged on a lot. i feel bad saying this.Published on 19 July 2013 by Ellie Swell