Waga Seishun ni Kuinashi (No Regrets for Our Youth) Reviews
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.
[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]
L'histoire est assez simple: Yukie, une universitaire gâtée et égocentrique, tombe amoureuse de Noge, un étudiant activiste, qu'elle finit par épouser. Mais presque du jour au lendemain, l'homme est arrêté pour espionnage et meurt dans sa cellule. Détruite et désillusionnée, Yukie trouve refuge chez ses beaux-parents, cultivateurs pauvres et détestés des villageois, forcés de sortir seulement la nuit. Sous la tutelle de sa belle-mère qui lui fera endurer moult corvées physiques, l'étudiante trouvera un sens à sa vie dans l'entraide et les choses simples.
À ma connaissance, No Regrets for Our Youth est le seul film de Kurosawa dont le protagoniste est une femme. Ce qui n'en fait pas pour autant une oeuvre féministe. Cependant, certains excès de sentimentalisme sont un peu lourds; Yukie verse des larmes, d'autres larmes, puis encore des larmes, en toute circonstance et parfois pour des raisons qui nous échappent. Il semble que Kurosawa ait voulu illustrer la fragilité féminine avec trop d'insistance et pas assez de subtilité. Toutefois, le jeu de Setsuko Hara (Yukie) est parfaitement dans le ton de l'oeuvre, et si celle-ci ne frappe pas avec autant de force que les classiques subséquents du réalisateur, elle demeure tout de même digne d'intérêt, ne serait-ce que pour admirer l'éclosion d'un style qui marquera à jamais le septième art.
What makes the film unique is its ability to visually externalize the conflicts, emotions, and ideas of its main protagonist, Yukie. At times, the acting of Setsuko Hara completes this task through the beautifully expressive facial gestures which are a major point of Kurosawaâ??s focus. One can track Yukieâ??s character arc from youthful ambivalence to hopeful outrage through close-ups alone. This style does speak to his later films though, as close-ups of his actors in general, but Takeshi Shimura especially, would become a hallmark of Kurosawaâ??s films. The cinematic techniques utilized in tandem with Hara's acting, though, only serve to increase the emotional conflict throughout the film. One of the scenes in which this is most noticeable is Yukieâ??s reaction to hearing that Nago was going to China. The shot of Yukieâ??s body pressed up against the door fades several times to illustrate her movement rather than concisely having her move. The effect of such a technique is that it frustrates attempts to quantify the issues faced by Yukie into temporal understanding. The fades remove our sense of time by getting rid of linear movement in a narrative which, in the hands of most filmmakers, would conform to our normal understandings about how emotion is illustrated to audiences. Several scenes like this one are sprinkled throughout the film (the movement of Yukieâ??s hands in the water corresponding to a piano, the words of others become the sonic center of the film, etc.) and ground the film in a first person style storytelling which seems much removed from the more objective style he would utilize in most of his films. Of course, the film's other aspects are also laudable; camera movement, story, and shot composition are just a few of the elements that come together to make the film great yet it is these certain scenes which make No Regrets for Our Youth special for me.
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.
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