Waga Seishun ni Kuinashi (No Regrets for Our Youth) (1946)
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as Prof. Yagihara
as His Wife
as Yukie his daughter
as Ruykichi Noge
as Police Commissioner
as His Father
as His Mother
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Critic Reviews for Waga Seishun ni Kuinashi (No Regrets for Our Youth)
An important early contribution to the director's oeuvre and a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of his creative style.
Kurosawa explores the maze of shame, honour, tragedy and pride, and the curious stigma attached to those who denounced the country's involvement in the war.
Kurosawa uses his considerable filmmaking skills to nail down a pic Stanley Kramer would be proud to call his own because of its liberal message.
Audience Reviews for Waga Seishun ni Kuinashi (No Regrets for Our Youth)
one of kurosawa's earliest films, this one has his characteristic great diologue and thoughtful presentation. this is one of my least favorite kurosawa films, it starts well and sort of loses something along the way and the film drags you through things unnecessary to the story. but it was still very good in most respects. when one of kurosawa's worst films could be this good, its just more evidence that he was a master filmmaker.
[font=Century Gothic]"In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first." - Ambrose Bierce[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"No Regrets for Our Youth" starts with a group of university students on a leisurely hike when suddenly the gunfire of army maneuvers punctures the calm. Later, what is initially thought to be a snake invading their paradise turns out to be the body of a fallen soldier.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]It is 1933 and Japan has invaded Manchuria which Professor Yagihara(Denjiro Okochi) opposes. His subsequent firing sparks protests not only on campus in Kyoto, but also nationwide. Trying to stay out of the fray, his daughter Yukie(Setsuko Hara) is torn between two fellow students, Noge(Susumu Fujita), leader of the student movement, and Itokawa(Akitake Kono). The protests are quickly crushed by authorities, sending Noge to jail while Itokawa becomes a prosecutor.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Inspired by real events, "No Regrets for Our Youth" is an inversion of the basic war propaganda movie, advising the populace to not follow the mob but to take a firm stand for what it believes in. Along these same lines, Japan during World War II is portrayed as not being as fanatical as it had been elsewhere. I was pleased to see that peace movements are timeless and universal but also distressed that so is red baiting. As political as this movie is, it is first and foremost a compelling story of personal discovery with a rare female protagonist from Akira Kurosawa that does admittedly drag a little in the middle.[/font]
Made just one year after WWII ended, Kurosawa's 'No Regrets For Our Youth' explores the lesser-known part of Japan that protested against rising militarism in the 1930's, as well as acknowledges Japan's mistake for having chosen a path that led to such a devastating war, and for that it's a fascinating and important film. It also has an interesting story of a love triangle in which a young woman (Yukie Yagihara, played by Setsuko Hara) is pursued by two young men (Noge and Itokawa), whose personalities are established in the film's opening scene. They're all crossing a creek on stepping stones, and she needs help at the end. Both offer their hands. Noge then strides over confidently and picks her up, carrying her across with her legs flapping, to the annoyance of the conservative Itokawa. They all then run off up a hill together, carefree youth that they are.
However, it's 1933, and with Japan's militarism on the rise, their world is about to change. The students protest for freedom, but their movement is crushed, and they must decide whether to continue on with it or conform. Itokawa chooses the latter path; Noge the former. The safe route for Yukie is with Itokawa, but she's drawn to Noge. As she puts to Itokawa while walking with him at night in a fantastic scene, "If I follow you, my life will be peaceful. But...if I may say so...it'll be boring. If I follow him [Noge] something dazzling will await me. My life will be stormy. It terrifies me and fascinates me."
Setsuko Hara showed outstanding range in the film, and turned in a great performance. As Noge is possibly leaving her for years, or forever, Kurosawa shows her standing behind a door, torn by rising emotions. She simply can't remain on a conventional path, as she says to her father "Now I feel my life is meaningless - I want to go out into the world and see what it's like to live." She later will have several great scenes on her in-laws' farm, enduring backbreaking labor planting rice, and having to resolutely stand up to people there who insult and shame her for her association with Noge. Kurosawa is a master at letting his actors wordlessly communicate with their faces, and does so brilliantly in a scene when various villagers stare at her. Through it all, she knows that she chose wisely, and recalling Noge's words "No regrets in my life, no regrets whatsoever" gives her strength.
Indeed she has no regrets, and this is the title of the film, but it's clear that Kurosawa has regrets for his country's actions, which is the film's irony. It's stirring at the end with messages of individuality and freedom, which are powerful but feel a little over the top, possibly the reflecting script alterations Kurosawa was not happy with, or the oversight and influence of the occupation American censors. I believe a good portion of it, however, was Kurosawa trying to process the shame and humiliation of the war, find something positive, and point to the future, one in which there is a need to at least sometimes think as individuals in order to remain free. One year after the war, Kurosawa essentially admits the country was wrong, something that Japanese officials would struggle with in various forms for decades afterwards.
"I look forward to seeing more Noge's in the future, rising from this assembly of young, hopeful students," says the professor at the end, the pain and shame on a couple of faces in the crowd. "You must fight for freedom, and there will be torture and sacrifice in the struggle," he had told Yukie earlier. Artistically these messages feel a bit forced, and yet, we have to admire Kurosawa's courage, and are grateful that such an excellent filmmaker gave us this window into the Japanese psyche in 1946.
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