Waga Seishun ni Kuinashi (No Regrets for Our Youth) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Waga Seishun ni Kuinashi (No Regrets for Our Youth) Reviews

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sanjurosamurai
Super Reviewer
May 21, 2008
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.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ March 27, 2009
[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]
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[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]
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[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]
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[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]
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Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
April 6, 2016
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.
GS
Super Reviewer
½ November 10, 2011
More of an artistic touch present in this film than in Kurosawa earlier films. This film is well shot, but a little slowly paced that it becomes boring at times to watch. It is a provocative depiction of the struggle of a women. A great look into the lives of students and revolutionaries in Japan during the 1930s. Denjiro Okochi and Susumu Fujita deliver performances which completely made me forget they acted in the Sanshiro Sugata films not so long before this film. Long time Kurosawa collaborator, Takashi Shimura, makes a brief appearance as a not so sympathetic police officer but nonetheless makes his mark on the film with his famous ruminative expression. The most credit goes to Setsuko Hara, with whom I fell absolutely in love with in Ozu's Tokyo Story. Hara undergoes a dynamic change and her ability to show growth and maturity despite being so good at acting as an once naive and careless city girl was very surprising and convincing to watch. Her portrayal of her character is masterful as she enters the rural farmlands to help her in-laws. This is a must-see film from Kurosawa because it is his first real attempt at a serious and complex film and for Hara's brilliant performance.
June 28, 2014
Interesting indictment of the Japanese government and how it kept its citizens under strict censure before and during the war. It's also a message to the people who lived through and supported the repressive regime.
½ May 30, 2014
This is one of Kurosawa's earlier works and as such I'm not really sure what to think of it. Unlike his war and pre-war films this is at least his vision we're seeing. The issues tie directly in with the ones Kurosawa had dealt with as a silent critic of the imperial regime. It's just that they're more overt than is usual for his films while at the same time being more opaque and unexplored.

As with many of his films this one is about valorizing the individual's struggle for right behavior against a society that is indifferent or hostile. This time the struggle takes place over a decade and follows the story of a girl who gets involved with an opponent to the imperial regime and a spy. It looks at what heroism really means and concludes, in a typically Japanese way, that it means continuously suffering for a good cause. It isn't exactly a novel concept but he handles the material well.

An interesting feature of the work is that the main character is a woman. This is quite unusual for a Kurosawa film since he appears to have found the lives of women entirely uninteresting. The presentation of the lead character features several highly unsurprising and patriarchal assumptions but after an unimpressively self-centered youth she actually turns into a surprisingly strong character. Sure, she expresses this strength through subordinating her desires first to those of her husband and then to her in-laws, but she is at least deciding the path of her own life and gets to tell off people who are less stubborn than she is. One can only expect so much from a 1940s film after all.

I think one of the difficult bits to appreciate is the then modern setting. The events dealt with were then fresh in everyone's memory (it must have started production mere months after the US landing) so he felt no need to explain the background. And indeed the rise of Imperial Japan doesn't need much explaining since it features mostly the same features we'd expect from a fascist state: the suppression of academic liberty and the persecution of political dissidents. But the same cannot be said of the actions of Noge. All that we know about him is that he is doing something he considers vitally important. He's clearly aligned with the Leftists and anti-fascists, but for more than that you need to look up the Wikipedia page to find out it has to do with leaking secrets to Russia and the Sorge case. Then there are the not infrequent moments of dialogue over-minimizing. There were many times I wanted to shout at the screen, "Yes, I understand that you're feeling something hard. Is it too much to ask that you explain what it is?"

Overall it was a good film, but nowhere near his best. It starts off fairly well but has a long and slow middle before moving onto a much stronger ending. I didn't recognize most of the cast but I did squeal a little when I spotted Takashi Shimura in a bit role as a villain. I don't think I ever saw him as a baddie before so that was fun. I think this is probably the earliest of his films I can genuinely say I liked for more than its academic value.
½ February 6, 2012
An extremely impressive film. One of Kurosawa's finest. A love triangle is the vehicle for telling the story of a society sliding into fascism (the elite ruling both gov't and business) and the academic fight (protests and arrests) against the policies of the powerful and the resulting propoganda war against dissent. A healthy parallel can be found into today's 21st society.
½ October 9, 2010
Excellent performance from Setsuko Hara, particularly in the second half of this film. Also, the almost fairy-tale like opening was pretty spectacular. Too bad it didn't really build into anything but the next scene. It might have been interesting to see that recur throughout the movie. (See: "Pan's Labyrinth")
July 23, 2008
Hara is absolutely marvelous, but the film itself is great too. The techniques are clearly influenced by Eisenstein and Dovzhenko, in fact the whole thing closely resembles a Soviet propagnda film, in style and content. Indeed, it also carries that same bluntness, which is its greatest drawback. It could also be said that Kurosawa doesn't capture women particularly well (this was his ONLY movie with a female protagonist), but I guess not everyone can have Mizoguchi's talent in that area.
July 10, 2008
Again, the development is really slow, but pays off in the end. One of the greatest movie titles. Ever.
½ April 8, 2008
This is the one that I was awkward with. I had no idea what happened at Kyoto. Heck, I have a history degree and I don't know anything about Japanese politics or Kyoto. Wikipedia didn't know anything about it either. Admittedly, Kyoto is not Britney Spears either...

Watching this movie, you eventually find out that it is a union movie and has to do with the attention Communism gets after the second world war. Really, this is one of those films that really lives up to that "Post-War" banner that Eclipse put these movies under. But the interestnig, really good part of this movie is the weird love affair that happens in this film.

That love interest drives this film. So while the first half borderline isn't great for non-post WWII Japanese people, the second half is absolutely riveting. The images of the woman working in the field are some of the best in cinema. The universal themes of alienation and bigotry ride high through this movie in an absolutely stellar form. It's really a shame that I was so turned off by the beginning of this movie.

Kurosawa really seems to have a personal stake in this story. There's a disclaimer at the beginning of this movie that claims that the Kyoto events prove to be inspiration for this film, but it is still a work of ficiton. From what little I found about the subject matter, I call bullshit and I think that he just didn't want to be sued. I mean, this story just pulled a Dragnet and maybe changed the name to protect the innocent. There's allegory, there's metaphor, and then there's this. This is probably a direct adaptation of the real events with a love story thrown in.

I have to reiterate how powerful the end of this movie is. I do like a catharsis for the character. Stagnant characters do little to nothing for me and I'm glad that there's some real power in this movie, despite (I keep saying it) the dull and beginning, I love the scenes in the mud fields. With the water flooding the harvest, I almost lost it. That was actually too much for me. Maybe I'm just becoming a schoolgirl in my old age. (Figure that one out.)

At the end of the day, the movie is really pretty good, but then you have to tolerate all this intro stuff.
½ January 11, 2007
1/30 - The Namesake (Nair, 2007, Rental): 7.5

1/31 - No Regret for Our Youth (Kurosawa, 1946, Rental): 7.5

2/2 - Equinox (Woods, 1970, Rental): 5


2/2 - Waitress (Shelly, 2007, Rental): 8.5
September 22, 2006
I really good early Kurosawa film that was a huge step forward in his abilities as a storyteller-- unfortunately the greatness of the film is marred by the Mei Ah transfer.
Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
April 6, 2016
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.
March 3, 2014
The only way this film can work is for Noge to be a sympathetic character. And he simply wasn't, in any way.
Ultimately, too leftist, & naively idealistic for me. As bad as fascism is, self-righteous protesting student university worship leads to just as many ills. If it wasn't for Hara, it wouldn't be nearly as watchable.
At one point in the movie, I'm like, "stop being boring!" Yeah, I just didn't really find her husband as heroic as I was supposed to.
I find the "no regrets" phrase to be meaningless. Really? No regrets for anything? You've never treated someone poorly? You don't regret that? That's rather cold & unfeeling.
The worst part is that I can't tell the characters apart. They're all Asian.
½ March 30, 2015
Kurosawa's first postwar film is a solid film, but really not yet the work of a master film maker. It's a melodramatic story about a rather spoiled woman who's drawn into politics when she marries a leftist, and ultimately is forced to become an adult in order to survive.
February 8, 2015
A film that could never have been done during the war for obvious reasons became the first film Kurosawa did after the war. Yukie is a pampered rich girl who spends her time playing the piano and relishes being pursued by two suitors, both of whom are college men. Itokawa is gentle and affectionate but too much so. There is a scene in which Yukie asks him to get on his knees and beg her forgiveness even though he hasn't done anything, and to her horror, he does exactly that. He is the safe suitor, ultimately becoming a successful prosecutor. Noge is the brave and romantic hero who is adamantly against the rise of Fascism and will thus pay the predictable price for his passions. Yukie does her utmost to forget and avoid Noge but is drawn to his magnetism so strongly she eventually ends up marrying him. The scenes of them being married are heartbreaking because of the terror she feels every time he walks out the door. Eventually Noge is imprisoned and assassinated by the fascists right before his trial. What Yukie does in response to that is heroic and amazing making her the greatest heroine in the entire Kurosawa oeuvre. A seriously underrated Kurosawa film.
November 26, 2014
These modern directors should watch Kurosawa. They could learn some things.
June 28, 2014
Interesting indictment of the Japanese government and how it kept its citizens under strict censure before and during the war. It's also a message to the people who lived through and supported the repressive regime.
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