Maadadayo (1993) Poster


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Kurosawa's final mellow mood
Chris Knipp1 May 2006
Kurosawa's last film was released in the US at his death, five years after it was made. It's the story of a retired schoolteacher and it's unabashedly sentimental and heartwarming, but unlike the lonely old man of the famous English schoolteacher tale Goodbye, Mr. Chips who has to be humanized and refuses to retire, Hyakken Uchida (Tatsuo Matsumura) is different from other men in his oddball attitude and intellectual accomplishments but neither lonely nor sad, and the story begins with his very willing retirement. He's both a mischievous joker and a happily married man who likes to stay up all night drinking and singing with his ex-students in all the years that follow that retirement depicted in the film. Uchida's quirky individuality is celebrated by his admirers, and the film depicts him solely in his relationship with them. They give him lavish presents (including after WWII a nice house with a liquid garden) and an annual birthday party, and they cherish his spirit, his personality, and his funny, thought-provoking remarks.

Madadayo is based on a series of books in turn drawn from the life of an actual military school teacher. Teacher -- sensei -- of course has a special sense in Japanese. It's a role one takes on for life, and one's "sensei" is a permanent attachment based on admiration and respect. Corny and sentimentalized as this "sensei" is, he's a richly charming character and the way his former students carouse with him and cherish him before, during, and after the War is expressive of some of the best aspects of Japanese culture.

At the annual parties, the ritual is that the sensei's students chant, Mahda kai?" (are ready?) and he sings out, "ma-da-da-yo!" (not yet!). But though he may not go gentle into that good night, he does accept old age with good humor. Madadayo is about growing old, about growing old frankly, growing old gracefully, about being useful as one grows old through dignity and humor, about the mutual benefits that accrue when the old receive the respect of younger generations. It's about old-fashioned loyalty to one's school, and about respecting and honoring eccentricity and respecting and honoring the intellectual type. The former students, who are doctors, lawyers, business men, and so on, recognize that in his oddball impracticality, his "absent-minded professor" style, their sensei possesses wisdom and creative individuality they lack and they always say he's "pure gold." One might imagine them proposing him for designation as a "national treasure." Sensei is absurdly weak and vulnerable at times, witness his emotional collapse when his wife's male cat Nora disappears and he goes to pieces with grief. But importantly he articulates this grief eloquently and with a certain detachment for his ex-students. And they respect his peculiarities so much that they send out an all points bulletin for Nora and are gravely concerned for his return. (It never comes, but the sensei's wife finds another cat and eventually both are memorialized by handsome gravestones in the garden.) However silly he is, his behavior is simply more enthusiastic and emotional than others', and finally this sensei simply represents what is wisest and most human.

And sensei's wife represents a perfect, idealized traditional Japanese woman (without the function in her case of mother, however), always deferential, formal, polite, sweet, but elegant and noble, the repository of hospitality, the hearth, loyalty, goodness, patience, steadfastness: you can't help being impressed by the actress Kyôko Kagawa's supple, unflaggingly consistent, energetic but restrained performance, comparable to Tatsuo Matsumura's. As the sensei, Matsumura is an initially off-putting but ultimately irresistible and splendidly rich character -- pitiful, cute, wise, silly, tough, stridently singing his old songs and making his imperishable jokes which his many admirers never fail to laugh at loudly and delightedly. They need him tremendously -- this is the film's chief message, to value special people as they age -- and so they take wonderful care of him. When the film begins, his book sales have enabled him to retire and focus on writing in a small house. When the War comes it's completely destroyed by Allied bombs and he and his wife live in a tiny hut. At the end of the war the students build a lovely spacious house with a garden made up entirely of a "donut" shaped pool in which carp the sensei fancifully describes as "giant" can swim around endlessly.

Many of the scenes are Ozu-like in their quietude and use of a stationary camera as the sensei sits with his chief admirers and drinks and talks, usually with his wife sitting by to supply food and drink. But there is a large cast of characters and in the final annual birthday dinner women and children and grandchildren are now present. The drinking of a large stein of beer by the sensei before he performs the "Mahda kai?""Ma-da-da-yo!" ritual and gives his amusing speech is probably based on Germanic practices: Uchida taught German and must have studied in Germany.

The sensei's unflagging spirit and humor and his former students' equally unflagging devotion make for an inspiring and beautiful fantasy. It is a wise and pleasant dream, and Kurosawa's charming evocation of it speaks well of his final years.

The film was made in 1993, released in the US in 1998 when Kurosawa died, re-released in 2000. It is timeless, and any year is a good year to get to know it and chew over its many, many endearing passages.
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The fruits of quiet observation
KFL12 February 2000
I have to disagree with the individual who suggests that viewers who liked Ran or Seven Samurai will like this. I think the individual who compared this to some of Ingmar Bergman's work is much nearer the mark.

If you're not ready to observe rather mundane happenings in the interest of understanding universal life experiences, you probably won't appreciate this film. It takes some serenity and patience on the part of the viewer, which however are rewarded.

The English subtitles are competent, but cannot explain everything. The word for "fool" in Japanese is written using the characters for horse and for deer; hence the stew of horse meat and venison becomes a "fool's stew." And more importantly, the title Madadayo, though correctly translated as Not Yet, is very often associated with a game of hide-and-seek, with the children who are hiding crying "madadayo!" until they've found a good spot to hide. This will serve to explain the final scene, and make it more poignant perhaps...for the Japanese too speak of returning to one's childhood in extreme old age.
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Beautiful ... how life ideally should be
Irradiata5 October 2006
I just finished watching "Madadayo" and can still feel tears welling up. I was moved at the beautiful movie and its message of kindness and living well. It took me a while to get into the film as it is rather slow and not much does happen, but Kurosawa is a master of mood, characterization and setting the scene and gradually, the movie takes its hold on you.

The movie starts with the Professor's retirement from teaching. We learn he taught German, and he must have been a good teacher as well as quite a character, because large numbers of his students stay in touch with him through the decades. Kurosawa shows us that the students love and respect him dearly, as well as finding him eccentric. They refer to him as "solid gold". However, I kept asking "Why? Why would these people with busy lives, following their own paths, continue to hold birthday parties for their eccentric old professor?" And as the movie continued, I found myself answering my own question. Why not? It's a win-win situation for all involved. The students value the professor's company and despite joking protests to the contrary, the professor enjoys the visits and increasingly comes to depend on them. In post-WWII Japan, there must have been little to celebrate, so having an annual excuse to get together with people you enjoy would be reason enough. Kurosawa also expounds on one of his main themes from "Red Beard"; kindness begets kindness and that is what we continually shown in "Madadayo". The students help build the professor a new house after his home is destroyed in the fire-bombing of Tokyo. The professor loses his cat and the students and the community band together to try to find it, celebrating and congratulating one another when they think they find it, and commiserating and empathizing when they don't. The annual birthday parties continue and evolve from just the male students drinking with their professor to banquets involving their wives and children. I began to fall under the spell of how wonderful it would be to be part of this community, to know these people, to know there were others looking out for me, willing to help if I needed it, relishing my company, and knowing that once a year I could get together with all my friends from school (the ones we all lose touch with because our busy lives follow diverging paths), celebrate the life of a great man (a favourite teacher's lessons stay with you forever) and be part of something bigger and gentler and kinder.

I can understand why someone expecting the excitement of "Seven Samurai", the suspense of "High and Low", or the innovation of "Rashomon" would be disappointed in "Madadayo", but if you enjoyed the lessons of "Red Beard", the gentle pull of "Madadayo" will delight and soothe you. You'll be left with a serene feeling of well-being, wishing you could be one of the Professor's students.
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no better way to end his career
polgas2814 August 2003
i'd put off watching Madadayo because i'd had apprehensions about a "modern day" kurosawa piece (even though it spans from 1943 to 1960), and i wish i hadn't. it was a beautiful, -beautiful- film and one definitely worth seeing.

the premise is simple -- it follows the life and relationship between a professor and his former students -- but the film itself is anything but. it's especially touching, knowing that it was kurosawa's ultimate work. despite the epic period masterpieces that were his hallmark, i can think of no better film to serve as kurosawa's last than this simple, elegant, sublime piece.

don't make the same mistake i did. don't put off seeing this movie. whether you're a fan of his work or not, you're guaranteed to enjoy it. it's the kind of films that transcend genres and leaves you touched, whether you were looking for it or not.
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Sensitive Low-Paced Worship of Knowledge, Friendship and Life
claudio_carvalho15 September 2005
In a pre-WWII Tokyo, the professor of German Hyakken Uchida (Tatsuo Matsumura) decides to retire after thirty years of professorship, and dedicate to the career of writer. His students, some of them from different generations, love him and keep a close touch with the professor and his wife (Kyôko Kagawa) along his life. In 1943, the house of the professor is bombed, he loses all his possessions and moves to a simple gardener cottage. After the war, his former students build a new small house with a lake around, and every year along seventeen years, in the professor's birthday, they have a reunion with a funny ceremony, based on children's hide and seek and referring if the professor is ready to die. They ask the professor: "-Mahda-kai?" ("Are you ready?"), and the professor responds "-Madadayo!" ("Not yet?") and drinks a large glass of beer.

"Madadayo" is the last direction of Master Akira Kurosawa, and is a sensitive low-paced worship of knowledge, friendship and life. I found this movie very beautiful, and I would like to highlight some points. First of all, the character of the professor Hyakken Uchida, capable of be adored by his students of different generations, very connected to a cat, living with his beloved wife but without kids. There is no explanation, but it seems quite contradictory a man of such profile not having son or daughter. Another interesting point is the changing of behavior of Japanese society with women (and family) along time. In the sixty-first anniversary of the professor (First Madadayo), there are only men in the meeting room, in spite of war finished a few years ago. Seventeen years later, the room is crowded of men, women and children. The conclusion of the story, showing that life goes on, is awesome! Last but not the least, the music score is magnificent. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "Madadayo"
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One Long Glass of Beer
tedg19 November 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Well, filmmaking doesn't get more personal than this. Conceptually, it fits between `Ran' and `Red Beard,' but the central character is clearly reflective of the esteemed filmmaker.

This Prospero is a writer. (Though he was also a German teacher, it is his writing that makes him special.) We have the requisite three worlds: the `real' world of Kurosawa, (who creates) the world of Uchida, (who creates) the world of Nora, the cat. Uchida appreciates another culture's literature as Kurosawa does (in American film).

Kurosawa often uses a narrative device where stillness in the narrative increases the energy of the target. It is a definitive Japanese concept, but one that we who have lived with him know. So here, as we watch the slow aging and housing and visiting of the man, as we settle into the ordinariness of what we see, our attention is focused on the fulcrum of the whole thing: the fate of Nora.

Kurosawa's point here is that his students love him of course. But once he is gone, they'll find another. He knows we venerate his films, and also knows that he is merely a small hut in which we stay while under duress, but that we will move on as the opportunity avails.

There's a particularly wonderful episode at his first party. There amidst all the worshiping speeches, a man gets up and recites all the train stops on a very long line, a reference to his self-reference in `Dodesukaden.' There are many such references to his other films, possibly every one of them. I caught many and warmly remembered them and him.

Here is the last tapestry of metaphor from the master of film metaphor. Check out the very last: hiding. It was his style to himself hide and to hide things in his work, including the truth of his own concealment. I wish we could all exit with such graceful selfawareness.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 4: Worth watching.
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viewers awarded... in the end
smakawhat20 August 2003
Madadayo chronicles the life of a retired professor who lives vicariously through all the students he has taught. The students admire him greatly, he is visited often and many stay to listen to his whimsy and foolish stories. The professor is a child at heart, and not much really happens. The film doesn't have a plot really, and only 2 things start to focus around the story one being the loss of the professors house after the allied bombing, and the loss of a stray cat he adopts years later.

To the viewer though there is much in between stories and people to digest such as a great celebratory dinner that is held every year, and so on. To some degree I will admit I liked the camradare that I witnessed, the great dialogue, the professors childish personality, but I wanted the film to move forward and to at least give me something to focus on.

The lost cat scene was a good distraction but it did go a little more longer than neccesary. I find this often sometimes in Kurosawa's work (The lost gun in Stray Dogs, following the suspect in High and Low reminded me of this). However, the hallmarks of his great filmmaking are apparent in the dinner scenes, cinematography, and conversations. He also provides scenes that the viewer could take as obligatory (such as a death, or the possible return of the cat), but Kurosawa changes this so the outcome is not what you expect but refreshing.

However, the best is saved for last... litteraly. As I was waiting for the film to end, the hallmark of greatness arrives without question in the span of what must have been only 5 minutes. The ending just wraps up everything so perfectly, and it made me from just liking the film to instantly loving it. It gives a real insight into the professors mind who is greatly admired and respected.

Rating 8 out of 10
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Madadayo travels deeper than most light comedies.
yossarian10025 February 2003
Madadayo appears to be a light comedy on the surface, but, as in all Kurosawa films, he draws you deeper and deeper into the characters and takes his time to tell the story the way he wants to. Also, Madadayo is quite charming. I loved it. I felt I was transported to post war Japan and given more than just a glimpse into the Japanese personality, and that is a gift in my book. What a brilliant director Kurosawa was. I will miss him dearly.
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failed attempt
bedazzle5 October 2001
The movie begins with the announced retirement of a beloved professor. Later we realized that he was so loved that his pupils follow him for the remainder of their lives, he is "pure gold." How quaint. The stronger the pupil/professor attatchment is the more out of place and unfounded it seems because we never witness their growing together. Instead it is simply assumed and the audience is supposed to grow with characters through the professor's witty stories. Granted, these stories are sometimes clever, but far from the hilarity you'd expect from the pupil's laughter. It's always sad when the characters in the movie are the only ones laughing at the jokes. Much like the unfounded relationship between the pupils and professor, is that of the cat and professor. This near half hour of depression over a barely known cat is almost unbearable. I guess the movie attempts to move the audience emotionally and link them with the characters; I failed with me. Personally, I was wishing the professor would just die already and end the boredom.
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A touching, melancholic masterpiece
hier-48 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
A fitting conclusion to Mr Kurosawa's career. Full of quiet melancholy and contemplation this film is, in my opinion, quite aware that it is the director's last. It deals solemnly with death, love, admiration and loyalty. Madadayo meaning not yet, tells the story of a retired German grammar teacher whose small group of devoted students grows exponentially every year along with the parties and gatherings in honour of him. The silence in the film allows the relationships between the characters to become gripping and though there is little action the audience begins to care about the teacher as much as the students. The film also contains just the correct amount of humour to counteract the more melancholic, contemplative elements of the story. My only main criticism is that the segment dealing with the lost cat is perhaps just slightly too long. While contributing greatly to the pathos in the film I believe if this part of the film were shortened by a little balance would be restored between pathos and merriment.
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it's rare to find someone with the level of humility, warmth, humor and sadness of the professor...same for Kurosawa perhaps?
Quinoa19846 February 2007
At first I thought I would have to resist the sentimental clinging I expected for Madadayo, the final film written and directed by Akira Kurosawa (though it was not, from what I read in Emperor and the Wolf, necessarily his intended last project- then again, neither was Prairie Home Companion for Altman). But what can I say, except that maybe I'm a sucker for films that deal with a protagonist facing old age - done well, of course. In this case, Kurosawa decides to do a 180 from what he did in Ran, however still with the same emotional depths. If Ran was a plunge into the dark recesses of the human soul, where death and destruction (chaos as the title says) can occur, then so can there be joy and laughter and songs sung all for someone who can inspire a small quasi-community too. Sounds sappy, to be sure, but somehow Kurosawa is wise enough in his true golden years here to know that there can be a level of honesty, and a good level of fun, in dealing with potential problematic subject matter. I don't even know if I would recommend the picture to most Kurosawa fans, particularly the ones who dig into only his samurai films (the only inklings of death happen off-screen, to cats more than anyone else). But it struck a chord with me in a way only the movies can do.

The professor is Hyakken Uchida (Tatsuo Matsumara, his first film for Kurosawa), and he's based on a real professor, who wrote many books and was also much beloved in Japan. There's no real story here, per-say, at least when comparing it to the tight structures of the director's bulk of work. It's a series of vignettes showing how, upon retiring from teaching, his students become his best friends and most ardent supporters through good and bad times. This includes his home being destroyed during WW2, attaining a new home (and the problems with that, at first), and also in the most tragic section of the picture when he loses his cat. The latter of these almost had me in tears, which is a little crazy as I almost never (sans Umberto D) feel emotionally tugged and pulled over a pet problem in a story. But by this point in the film there's been so much that's happened in the side of sweetness and joy with Uchida- his yearly celebration thrown by his students that involves revelry and drinking and songs and all that- as well as the great bits of wisdom and nuance, that this comes as an unfathomable shock. And it's in due really to how Tatsumara plays it, how the character is completely believable in having this intense vulnerability on the flip-side of his kindness and humility, and Kurosawa's tact with this story in general. It ranks up there with the best emotional scenes in Ikiru.

But for the most part, Madadayo is a serene near-masterpiece of moods, and the primary mood here is that on the other side of despair, as Sartre once put it, life begins. Even through losing his house and seeing the rubble all around him, and the emotional crisis with the cat, Kurosawa's primary strengths here are in getting the little details perfect, the student characters that (perhaps a little underdeveloped) are totally indebted to the professor and love him like a kind of Sensai. The big 60th birthday celebration contains such little details sewn in, like the one character who wont stop naming the train-stations as everyone else around him sings and dances and gives speeches in revelry, and in its own minor-key way is like a supreme sequence to rank with Kurosawa's other major sequences in his films. There's also the little asides that show early on that Uchida is not just a conventional-lovable old man, but very intelligent and with an intuition that strikes to the core of matters. I also loved the moment when he says that if one isn't afraid of the dark, there's a defect in that person, without the side of imagination.

Meanwhile, Kurosawa guides this work of two-thirds happiness and one-third sorrow in a very personal tone, as if he meditated on each scene before going into the cutting room. Rarely does he falter in getting the emotional notes right, even the sappy ones, and he gets from Uchida a fully rounded performance. He also decides to leave his film- with children in Uchida's dream doing the 'Not Yet' game- with one of his most staggeringly beautiful compositions (maybe an all-time great closing shot too). As I mentioned, I'm not even sure if Kurosawa knew this would be his last film, but he makes it as a light-hearted, humorous yet serious tome on living peacefully, loving both people and animals (feel the chill in the room when the character mentions skinning cats), and it's enlightening in how facing death is shown as a sign of the ultimate, superlative strength.
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An easy-watchable Kurosawa about real japanese culture and characters
Moorsoldat31 August 2004
I've watched this movie more often then any other Kurosawa movie. I think most of his movies I've watched only once were movies whose impact on me will last a lifetime, thats why I don't need to watch 'Stray Dog' or 'Red Beard' too often, though they are my favorite. But this one is a movie I can watch on the evening, an easy-watchable and yet very touching and intensive movie, with moments to laugh and touching moments too. I realy like this movie for its sympathic characters - though it plays partly in fascism war-torn Japan. Maybe its the point of why I like these character especially - it shows that despite their fascistic affiliation the characters didn't have to be evil - or at least not all.

It has also a few good jokes which you can only understand when you understand japanese - the main character is a distinguished author and german-teacher. He delivers a brilliant character-study.

Recommendable for everybody interested in japanese culture, especially postwar - and all Kurosawa-fans of course.
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Episodic and overlong
cherold4 June 2012
It can be difficult to review a Kurosawa film. Many of his movies are clearly brilliant, a few are clearly poor, but a number are distinctive artistic visions that might work for you at one point in your life and not at another. Kagemusha, for example, was a movie I found terribly dull, only to watch it ten years later and find it brilliant.

But one cannot review a movie from the future, and in the present, I did not care for this one. It started decently enough, offering pleasantly humorous moments and an interesting eccentric as the protagonist, but the movie wanders through time in much too leisurely a way, built on a series of often mundane episodes, and by the halfway point I was feeling very restless, although not so much that I stopped watching.

It didn't help that I never understood the devotion of his students, who give him far more worship than seems reasonable. I mean, he seems like a nice guy, but he also seems like a bit of a kook. And the movie never shows you what he was like as a teacher, so there's no way to understand how his German language class made him so beloved.

Perhaps I'll watch this again in 20 years, to see if this movie is best viewed by old men, but for now, I didn't care for it.
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Flawed film from a great master
Red-1254 October 2010
Madadayo (1993) was the last film written and directed by the great Akira Kurosawa. Sadly, although the movie bears touches of Kurosawa's genius, it is not a truly memorable film.

The plot follows the life of a kindly professor, who retires from teaching but who is revered, respected, and almost worshiped by his former students. The problem for me was that we see the professor's many child-like foibles--which the students don't appear to mind--but we never see any evidence of the professor's greatness.

The professor taught German, not philosophy or religion, so the subject matter of his lectures couldn't have been inherently inspiring. We are never told what he said within or outside of class that brings about the fervent admiration of his students.

After the professor retires, he suffers a series of unpleasant incidents--some serious and some trivial. In each case he students come together to help restore his life to balance. In addition, they have a highly formalized party on his birthday each year. Eventually they include their wives, children, and grandchildren in these laudatory ceremonies.

The film is not boring, and it excels in the crowd scenes as well as in the scenes of wartime destruction, but it never provides a central core of substance that would have made the details and incidents meaningful.

We saw this film at the excellent Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House in Rochester. However, most of the action takes place indoors, and I'm sure the movie would work well on the small screen.
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A thoughtful, warm look at lifelong teacher/student relationships.
mailken25 September 2005
This is a beautiful movie. It is slow and deep rather than fast and shallow. It explores the relationships between a teacher and his students as he moves on from teaching to writing to retirement and they move into adulthood and parenthood. During this time they face the extreme challenges of World War II and its aftermath. But, at its core, the movie is not about the war. It is about the stability he presents to his students. He seems to behave in the same easy-going, confident manner, no matter how dire the circumstances. It is also about the way rolls eventually change: the students at first are nurtured by the teacher, but over time they begin to care about and then care for him. Most of us, or at least the lucky among us, have had good natured teachers that always seem to be able to get the best of their students. This is such a teacher. The scene depicting his 'foolproof' method for handling burglars is alone reason enough to watch the film. I recommend this movie and, if you like it, I recommend 'Ikiru' and the Japanese version of 'Shall We Dance'.
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Perfect movie for the end of one masterful directing career
aleksandarsarkic31 January 2016
Madadayo was last movie of legendary director Akira Kurosawa, and what a great way to end fantastic directing career spanning 50 years. I have watched nearly more than half of his work, but somehow i didn't watched Madadayo to this day, and i have missed a lot, this movie is beautiful. It is long and slow paced like many others Kurosawa's movies, but it's worth in the end, ending is simply beautiful it is sad but peaceful at the same time, like every other natural death. The most i like in this movie is the message to be good in your life to yourself and to others and you will live the peaceful quite life to the end, the connection of professor with his students is very touching, from beginning to the end. I see that many people complain on the part of the movie with missing cat, but i also like that part, and see the coming of new cat as metaphor for never ending circle of reincarnation. I am really recommending this movie to all lovers of Akira Kurosawa's work and Japanese cinema, and to all people who still have soul and heart, i am not recommending to people who don't like slow paced movie and movie with many dialogues. My grade 8/10.
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Life is a dream and it is beautiful
aleksandar-kuraica17 February 2015
The question 'are you ready, are you ready to die?' is answered, as a commonplace, in the negative. Who of us is ready to die? None. Even old age, the harbinger of defeat, cannot accept the fate it portends: an untimely death, for all death is untimely. There is acceptance of death, sure, but no one, save the seldom few who are most miserable, invites it into their home. To me it is a truism that there is nothing more lucid and apparent and viscerally vocal than our united cry - Madadayo!

But there is something more at play in this film than this pithy commonplace, something deeper. It is a masterpiece, and one sadly overlooked in his dense oeuvre.

Why are you not ready to die?

Here is the broader and more philosophical inquiry at the heart of this movie; and I invite you to look into your own life and recall the opulence of emotion in your most miserable moments, and to ask yourself unflinchingly why, if the egregiousness truly stacks above your head, like the loss of a beloved cat named Nora, do you continue to live in this world. What is the cause behind your proclamation - Madadayo! Is it affirmative, or is it a resignation?

Misery befalls us all. But is misery all there is? Of course not, and Kurosawa rightly thinks not: "There is an enviable world of warm hearts." The professor tells it to us himself: he would have sunk into the mire of his despair had it not been for the kindness and generosity of his friends and relatives, and even those strangers unfamiliar with his plight.

He has a crisis when he loses the cat and another one in the shack. Both times he is saved by his friends. There is much that happens in a man's life, much of it good, much ambivalent; he sees many evils and performs some, regrettably, himself.

But the answer is there, in our lives, staring us in the face. Why are you not will to say you are ready for death?

The world of warm hearts is astoundingly beautiful. It is beautifully portrayed in the movie, with heartfelt earnestness in the manner in which the students revere and support their professor; but, more to the point, it is also intrinsically beautiful. In the final scene the professor, now an old man, dreams himself a boy, a remembrance perhaps, and finds himself playing a game of hide and seek with some friends on a farm among conical stacks of hay. The boys on the road call out to him continuously, are you ready? as he tries to find a suitable hiding place among the hay. Madadayo (not yet) he exclaims to them. He then slowly covers himself with hay and just as he is about to say that he is ready for them (ready for death) the sun sets over the horizon of a surreal landscape imbued with green, orange and red, a multicoloured dream, and the camera pans up and over the sky, and it is here that we see the beauty of the world; it is this beauty, which is joined with the ethical, the kindness of people, that stops the young boy and the old man from saying that they are ready; it is this solemn beauty that keeps us all going, if we should choose, in our carousals and sojourns, to take notice of it. You are left with a broad smile on your face as you take leave of this master, and every time I think about him I am happy for the life he lived and sad that he departed us so soon.
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I liked it except for the missing cat part
create_evegb12 September 2007
I watch Kurosawa's movies because they are packed with wisdom and Madadayo didn't lack the same. I was half way through 'No regrets for our youth' when I thought of watching 'Madadayao'('coz No regrets . . didn't interest me much)so I stopped watching it and started watching 'Madadyo'. Like every Kurosawa's movie 'Madadayo' delivered wisdom wittily. But I slowly lost interest in the movie when the professor starts brooding about the missing cat which I suppose is also bringing the quality of the character down, because I believe that a professor who is highly civilised wouldn't brood for days for a missing cat and I, thinking of being one of his students who hunt for the missing cat would really have given a blow on the professor's face for having called them from their duty.

And as I said before - 'I liked it except for the missing cat part '
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A simple, yet engrossing tale
Scrooge-37 September 1999
Kurosawa's final directorial effort, Madadayo is a simple, yet engrossing tale of a beloved teacher and mentor. His former students show their love for him by giving him a big birthday party every year, and by helping him in times of crisis. In spite of some very odd personality quirks, everyone around him benefits from his wisdom.
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Excellent but not his finest
jose-cruz533 January 2013
Madadayo was the final film Kurosawa made and the film itself is about the process of life itself and the passage of time as the director himself was contemplating his own mortality, since he was well over 80 years old by the time he directed this film and only at that age he was at the optimal position to direct a film like this. Several of his other late films (those that he filmed after ca. 1980) deal with the process of aging, such as Ran, which is an epic film about an ageing feudal lord, here we have a much more personal work about an aging professor.

The subtitles of this film are rather bad, at the least the ones that I had, since a friend of mine who spoke Japanese noticed several errors and the lack of details required to understand the film. So it would be a 7/10 film for those that don't speak Japanese.
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The last of his movies is a timeless piece. Truly respect Akira
maximkong18 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
A perfect final masterpiece which was amazing because it does not seem to be aiming for some sort of fame or breakthrough achievement, but is focused purely on presenting true Japanese culture, especially on the level of respect towards the elders.

I also liked the fact that this movie is very different from most of its peers as it does not project a melancholic, sentimentalized or negative perspective on the 'later stages of life' but instead every single character embraces life and death with profound down-to-earth humour. The Sensei continues to 'mentor' his ex-students with his unconventional wisdom and creative peculiar moments, and his own students not only accepted him for being eccentric but find him a powerful inspiration that does not fade with time.

What makes this movie timeless:

  • The level of companionship, collective happiness and mutual feelings exhibited from 'Mada-dai' party will be one of the most memorable happy scenes from a movie that I will forever cherish. - A superb presentation of traditional Japanese culture: loyalty towards the elders, serene lifestyle, consideration towards other people, communial events etc that is, to date, stronger than any other movies I have come across (it even surpassed Omehido Poro Poro in this respect) - the role of Kyoko. Her silent, restraint but energetic and passionate acting performance provides solid support to the rest of the cast, despite a mere few conversational lines. The only thing lacking is the maternal aspect of her role as they did not bore children. - The lonely aspects of ageing: A large portion of the film was focused on the highs-and-lows involving their home cat, which also reveal sensei's vulnerability towards emotional wrecking. This is very realistic as they did not have children. - the students and the neighbour. I have never seen such commitment in they intended to carry out to help fulfil other's wishes. The neighbour's thoughtful decisions reflected the same attitude displayed by those in the aftermath of the Quake/Tsunami crisis today. - the sensei's unique outlook on life and his fire for living; I have watched way too many similar movies where the ageing, dying characters were overcome by the fact of death that they literally stopped living. - the songs or chantings were too good to forget
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So much better than I remembered!
TheLittleSongbird28 June 2012
The first time I saw Madadayo(Kurasawa's final film), staying with a German pen pal(who was into Kurasawa and considered Madadayo one of her favourites) on a music course, I was largely unfamiliar with Akira Kurasawa's style and found myself underwhelmed. Bear in mind, this was five years ago, and having seen more of his films over the years I thought let's give Madadayo a second chance. And I am glad I did after purchasing the DVD. While nowhere near his best film(I can think of at least seven or eight movies of his that deserve that distinction), Madadayo was much better than I remembered, now I consider it one of his underrated and one of his better films of the post-Ran period. The missing cat sequence does go on for too long, and the film drags in spots. However, it has all the Kurasawa trademarks, especially the delicate direction, superb camera work and beautiful scenery. The music score gives a both reflective and dignified touch to the film, the story does resonate with the audience especially the ending and the characters particularly the professor do interest even if they are not as complex or as dimensional as some of Kurasawa's other work. The acting is naturalistic and engaging at least, with the professor beautifully played. Overall, I'm glad I gave Madadayo a chance because while it is never going to be one of my favourite films there is still much to admire. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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Kurosawa's final film is a masterpiece, unfortunately not very well known
Andy-29610 May 2012
Akira Kurosawa's last film, from 1993, didn't attract a lot of attention when first released, perhaps because the Japanese master was already a bit out of fashion among the critics and the public in the 1990s, but this is among his best movies. Kurosawa was 83 when he directed this (he would die five years later) so in many ways this is a film about old age and about dying, but is far from somber or depressing – it's hard to think of a more elegiac film about death (it is also, of course, a film about life).

The movie's protagonist is Hyakken Uchida (1889-1971), who was a real Japanese professor of German Literature, but in many ways he is in the movie an alter ego of Kurosawa, an aging master facing old age and death. Uchida is kind hearted sometimes to the point of naiveté. Plotwise, not much really happens in this slow but rewarding film – we see Uchida the day of his retirement, facing the destruction of his home during World War II, celebrating with his former students each year in a party, finally facing illness and old age. Perhaps the biggest incident in the movie is when Uchida loses his cat. But if the plot seems slight, the movie stands out as a beautiful piece of humanist filmmaking. The quietly beautiful photography and mise en scene certainly helps.
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Valedictory And Very Special
crossbow010615 August 2011
While not a perfect film, this story about a bunch of former students of a retired professor who not only still see him after he retires but hold banquets for him and help him build a new home that was burned in the air raids during the war is very touching. This sense of love for the man who shaped them all is told simply, unhurriedly and with no regard for speed of the narrative. That it is truly Kurosawa's final film, it is an interesting project. This could have been a film about a group of film makers lauding and revering Mr. Kurosawa. Again, it is not a fast moving film, but it has a wonderful sentiment and it somehow seems to be the cap of a brilliant career as a director. I recommend it and while you watch it think of a professor or other person who would warrant this kind of respect. That helps to make it an even better viewing experience.
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Child like introspection from the grandmaster.
Blueghost9 August 2011
This film brings sadness to me. Why? Because it's one of those films that you know doesn't have a happy ending, but it does. It's the encapsulation of an instructor's life, and how he's imparted his wisdom and knowledge to the students who worship him.

As always, it's exceptionally well shot and well acted. The framing is perfect, and the staging of the action is heart warming. The small vignettes are what they are; slices of Japanese life from pre-war to post reconstruction, and all degrees in between.

I don't have too much more to say on this film, because I wish it could end differently. I wish it could end where everyone gets together and they all have a picnic or something. I wish life could go on forever, and that no one would have to leave. and I guess that's the sense and broken promise that I get from this film. But, like Charles Schultz reminded us through Charlie Brown, sooner or later someone would have say goodbye.

And that's what Madadayo is all about.
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