Setouchi munraito serenade (Moonlight Serenade) (1997)





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Movie Info

Continuing the Setouchi trilogy -- which began with 1984's MacArthur's Children -- this film looks at Japan just after World War II. The film opens with documentary footage of the 1995 Hanshin earthquake that flattened Kobe. The devastation reminds an elderly Keita Onda of the ruined landscape of Kobe just after the Allied bombing raids, which he witnessed from his home on nearby Awajishima Island. Cut to 1945, when Keita's father, Kokichi (Kyozo Nagatsuka), receives the ashes of his eldest son who died on the battlefield. A rigid traditionalist, Kokichi decides to follow custom and return the ashes to his son's birthplace in Kyushu. He hires out a car -- a lavish expense that has the neighbors' tongues wagging about a possible mass suicide. Instead, the family -- consisting of the father, the mother Fuji (played by Shinoda's wife, Shima Iwashita), Keita (Hideyuki Kasahara), daughter Hideko (Sayuri Kawachi), and teenaged son Koji (Jun Toba) -- end up on a ferry bound for the south of Japan. Koji and his father are locked in a battle of wills. While dad preaches the value of tradition, Koji is much more interested in all things American. As the film progresses, Koji falls for a beautiful war-orphan named Yukiko (Hinano Yoshikawa). Also featured in this film are side stories about other passengers on the boat, including a sweet-talking black marketer who enlightens Kokichi on the joys of foreign liquor, a drug-addled soldier who falls in love with an impoverished woman about to turn tricks just to eat, and a dapper middle-aged man who jumps from the boat.
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Criterion Collection


Kyozo Nagatsuka
as Kokichi Onda
Hideyuki Kasahara
as Keita Onda
Jun Toba
as Koji Onda
Shima Iwashita
as Fuji Onda
Michiko Hada
as Geisha
Junji Takada
as Black Marketeer
Toshiya Nagasawa
as Discharged Soldier
Shohei Hino
as Projectionist
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