Chiheisen (1984)

Run Time - 135 min.  |   Countries - Japan  |  
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Based on the experiences of director Kaneto Shindo's sister, this docudrama follows the life of a young Japanese woman given in marriage to a compatriot living in California, as repayment on a debt. When the woman arrives, she is desperately homesick, although her farmer-husband is kind and understanding. She endures, raises four children, and along with her family, faces the humiliation of forced incarceration in a Japanese internment camp in Arizona while the family simultaneously loses their property and has their assets frozen. After the war has ended, her son returns from his tour of duty in a Japanese-American unit that fought in Europe, and she does her best to survive continuing crises, such as the death of her husband in an accident and a family move to a new town. Her nostalgia for Japan does not disappear, and when her children marry mainstream, non-Japanese Americans, it is not an easy change for her to accept. Director Shindo has faithfully rendered the experience of this woman in context, yet his treatment is somewhat distant and stiff -- more formally Japanese than casually American in approach. Whether consciously taken or not, this approach may prevent viewers from getting emotionally involved in the heroine's many difficulties -- even with the excellent interpretations of the lead actors.

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Keywords

accident, atrocity, cross-cultural-relations, cultural-shock, death, debt, farming, homesickness, husband, marriage, marriage-arranged, nostalgia, repayment, survivor, woman