My Second Brother (Nianchan) (1959)





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Director Shohei Imamura is one of the better-known names of Japanese cinema and here he helms a consistently downbeat drama of miserable lives in a miserable little mining town. Four orphaned siblings struggle against the crushing poverty that threatens to separate them. Unfortunately, no one else in the town is in very good economic shape either. Even though the children receive all the sympathy they need and kind offers of whatever food the townspeople have available, it slowly becomes apparent that their efforts to stay together are woefully unrealistic in the face of economic pressures. Throw in a mining disaster, the poignancy of a supposedly tough storekeeper with a gentle heart, and several heart-wrenching scenes and the sad story slides along the edges of melodrama. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi
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Audience Reviews for My Second Brother (Nianchan)

Based on the diary of a 10-year-old Korean-Japanese girl, the film is set in a mining town during the depression in the 50's, about four orphans who struggle to survive and stay together. The two eldest have to leave their work-scarce town for the cities to provide for their younger siblings. The young children of the family are given the most focus and depth. The younger brother is the most responsible for the family while the younger sister hopes that the family can stay together even though the need to feed the family keeps driving them apart. The cinematography is great and it captures the liveliness of the mining town, particularly the miner strikes and protests were impressively staged.

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