Sunday, March 18, 2018

Foreign Film Spotlight: BLACK RAIN (Kuroi Ame)

Some of the best films ever made are the ones that the general audience has not seen, and this is because they were made outside of the United States.  Welcome to another installment of FOREIGN FILM SPOTLIGHT, where we showcase some of the best in foreign cinema to help broaden your horizons. This week we'll be taking a look at the 1989 Japanese film, BLACK RAIN.

This film consists of complex characters that lived through the aftermath of the atomic bomb hitting their city. It centers on Shizuma Shigematsu's family and village. As the film progresses, people in the village start getting ill due to the effects of the radiation on their bodies.

Shizuma Shigmatsu was overzealous in getting his niece Yasuko married. She was rejected by suitors because the "black rain" had touched her. The other village outcast was Yuichi, a war veteran who had lost touch with reality. Both Yasuko and Yuichi were both victims of the war and this bonded them eternally. Yasuko and Yuichi were important characters to me because they did not have a chance at a full life.  The war and the "black rain" took that away from them.  At first glance, Yuichi appears to be unstable, but underneath the craziness is an intelligent young man.

All the characters in film have one important thing in common: the bomb affected them greatly. The reactions of the characters to the bomb confused me because they did not retaliate or criticize the parties responsible. Everyone affected by the "black rain" just accepted their fate. Anyone who was near the bomb when it went off or were touched by the "black rain" were ostracized by their government and neighbors. Shizuma Shigematsu and his fellow hibakusha, atomic bomb survivors, were looked down upon socially because they were a constant reminder of what it had done to Japan and its people.

The bomb destroyed Japan just like the radiation destroyed Yasuko's body. The social and political implications that this horrible event caused are still felt in Japan today. The film succeeded in giving a realistic portrayal of these bombings, which took place in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Out of all the characters, I empathized with Yasuko the most. She was rejected by suitors because of the "black rain" that plagued her. I enjoyed seeing her develop as a character throughout the film, as she had a strength and dignity I admired. 

Black Rain is a superb example of an anti-war movie with a human touch. As a director, Shôhei Imamura, did a great job showing the strengths and weaknesses of the characters. I think that this film portrayed the bombings without prejudice or personal agenda.

Rotten Tomatoes has this film at an 85% approval rating and Ebert gave it 3.5 stars out 4. However, their opinions didn't have any influence on how wonderful I thought this film was. The directing and character development were wonderful, and if you are a history buff, then I know you'll enjoy this masterpiece.

Lisa's Score: 9/10

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