Rhapsody in August (1991)


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Movie Info

Four Japanese teens get the rare opportunity to view the atomic bombing of Nagasaki from two perspectives in this quiet film from Akira Kurosawa. Their journey into the past begins when their parents leave them with their grandmother in Nagasaki while they fly to Hawaii to visit their ailing uncle. Grandmother Kane proves to be as traditional as the youths are modern. The kids, try to convince Kane to go to Hawaii to say good bye to her sick brother, but she refuses. They are fascinated by the bombing and visit the many memorials and the bomb site often. Kane tells them stories about the terrible August day when her husband was incinerated and her life forever changed. Later the grandmother and her charges learn that her Japanese-American nephew (played by a Japanese speaking Richard Gere) is planning to pay them a visit. This creates turmoil and considerable excitement for the grandmother and her charges. They do not know how to treat him or what to think for his mother was a white woman and therefore one of those responsible for the bomb. But things are quickly smoothed out. The visiting nephew is polite, relaxed and apologetic for his forebears actions. As the family members converse and visit the sites together, a slow healing of painful wounds occurs. In this way, director Kurosawa earnestly urges his audience towards notions of reconciliation. It is as if he blames the war itself, not the people involved in the terrible event.


Hisashi Igawa
as Tadao, Kane's Son
Narumi Kayashima
as Machiko, Tadao's Wife
Toshie Negishi
as Yoshie, Kane's Daughter
Choichiro Kawarazaki
as Noboru, Yoshie's Husband
Hidetaka Yoshioka
as Tateo, Yoshie's Son
Mie Suzuki
as Minako, Yoshie's Daughter
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Critic Reviews for Rhapsody in August

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (7)

These days, people are more interested in Kurosawa than he is in being Kurosawa.

Mar 4, 2013

There's more narrative movement here than in Dreams, but the pedagogic humanism still gets bogged down in facile simplification.

Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

A beautiful reminder from octogenarian Akira Kurosawa that he's still the master.

May 15, 2004 | Full Review…

Mr. Gere gives a good, self-effacing performance in a role that's a little unreal. He speaks his own Japanese dialogue easily and is at the center of one of Mr. Kurosawa's most breathtaking moments.

Jul 16, 2003 | Rating: 4/5

Plain and simple, Rhapsody is mediocre pap. It's nothing compared with his previous work.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

A delicately nuanced film about remembrance -- so delicate, perhaps, that it's not terribly memorable itself.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Rhapsody in August

A fine little film by Kurosawa. Plain but evocative. I like late-stage Kurosawa.

Kyle Meisch
Kyle Meisch

Super Reviewer

Well,it isn't the worst Kurosawa,that's a gravity point.It's pathetic nonetheless.Piety and respect to the fruitful generation in spite of the elders' guidance and alternatively,the cycle continues by giving props to the what occurred in a critical epoch of a land e.g. the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima/Nagasaki.Props as in mournful homage.All's well that end's well but what's the utter point for all this?Just for Gere commercial?

Dimitris Springer
Dimitris Springer

Super Reviewer


Not one of Kurosawa's best, bust visually stunning.

Anthony Valletta
Anthony Valletta

Super Reviewer

pretty decent film. a late film for kurosawa made toward the end of his life, its one of my least favorite of his but still a great watch. this is a film about 4 kids spending the summer with their grandma in nagasaki reliving the events of the atomic bomb in 1945. richard gere appears in this film and was a little miscast. gere being in this film is maybe the only decision kurosawa has ever made that i would question, but this was still a solid film. a problem that i had as an american was that the japanese characters were a little condemning about the US dropping the a-bomb, which they have a right to be, but they never mention the fact that we dropped the bomb because they attacked us first. they make it sound like we dropped the a-bomb because we had nothing better to do that day. but it was still great to see the japanese perspective on a horific event in human history.

danny d
danny d

Super Reviewer

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