Synopsis by Jonathan Crow
Yoichi Higashi directs this blissful look at the magic and terror of childhood. Based on the autobiography of Seizo Tashima -- who along with his identical twin brother Yukihiko became beloved illustrators for children's books -- the film centers on his experiences as a young boy growing up in a rural backwater just after World War II. The two (played by Keigo Matsuyama and Shogo Matsuyama) spend much of their time doing what boys living in a pastoral idyll might: swim, fish, and make mischief. Their mother (Mieko Harada), who recently moved along with her sons and elder daughter to the countryside, teaches at a local grade school while her husband (Kyozo Nagatsuka) works for a government ministry and is perpetually away on business. The locals regard her with suspicion and view the twins as either curiosities or freaks. Their reaction to this dubious social environment is a barrage of Tom-and-Huck-style pranks. They impulsively cut down a neighbor's taro plant, break light bulbs and chuck a classmate's sandals into a nearby rice paddy. Along the way, they befriend a lad who is shunned at school for his poverty and for his birth. Though it is never explicitly stated, the film insinuates that the child is a member of Japan's untouchable class. He shows them how to snatch an eel from a fisherman's trap, the best places to fish and other secrets of the wild. Other encounters prove to be much more mystical: water sprites call to them as they struggle through a raging stream; a forest imp winks at them; and a trio of witches watch over the twins throughout the duration of the movie. E no Naka no Boku no Mura received the prestigious Silver Lion prize at the 1996 Berlin Film Festival.
childhood, childhood-adventures, friendship, mischief, nature, teacher, twins, village, class [social]
High Artistic Quality