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Twenty-Four Eyes - Criterion Collection
Twenty-Four Eyes - Criterion Collection
Actors: Hideko Takamine, Chishu Ryu, Toshiko Kobayashi, Chieko Naniwa, Takahiro Tamura
Director: Keisuke Kinoshita
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Kids & Family
UR     2008     2hr 36min

Keisuke Kinoshita's Twenty-Four Eyes (Nijushi no hitomi) is an elegant, emotional chronicle of a teacher s unwavering commitment to her students, her profession, and her sense of morality. Set in a remote, rural island com...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Hideko Takamine, Chishu Ryu, Toshiko Kobayashi, Chieko Naniwa, Takahiro Tamura
Director: Keisuke Kinoshita
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Kids & Family
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Kids & Family
Studio: Criterion Collection
Format: DVD - Black and White,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 08/19/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/1954
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1954
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 2hr 36min
Screens: Black and White,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 15
Edition: Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

An Anti-War Movie Based on Sorrow and Loss
Gerard D. Launay | Berkeley, California | 07/11/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"When the Japanese lost the war, this trauma had to be explained and given meaning. Ironically, shortly after Hiroshima, certain Japanese films critiqued the aggressive militarism that led to the disaster [See Kurosawa's "No Regrets for our Youth]. Then, the Japanese films changed. They stopped focusing on their own culpability in the disaster or their own war crimes, and concentrated on the loss, tragedy, and sorrow of losing so many Japanese sons. This film, "Twenty-Four Eyes," fits into that category...and for that reason has been so popular in Japan for fifty years.

As an example, when World War II looms, the boy students talk about becoming soldiers. Their teacher, Ms Oishe, responds that she prefers fishermen or rice sellers to soldiers. Later she is criticized gently for her "lack of patriotism" in her speech to the boys. To be fair, one aspect of anti-militarism ..the loss of freedom of well handled.

The story focuses on a self-sacrificing teacher and her relationship to 12 students over two decades. Everything is filmed around a small village bordering the ocean. Over these many years, the female teacher forges strong emotional bonds with all her students...and so when the boys go to war...and some don't return, her deep, personal loss is as extreme as that of a parent. The themes are reinforced though the changing moods of the sea or of the folk songs which the school chants. It's a very finely done film, although perhaps overly sentimental for my tastes. A great deal of attention is given to the serene, contemplative cinematography.

But...the director certainly never addresses the many injustices practiced by the Japanese on so many other Asian peoples. It reminded me, in a way, of the Buddhist movie "The Burmese Harp"...another excellent anti-war film that also sidesteps the issue of Japanese culpability. Nevertheless, few films are so poignantly intimate in treating the loss of life in war as this Japanese study. It does this because it slowly acquaints the viewer with the daily lives of the twelve boys and girls - all adorable - who grow up with their teacher in the small, poor village on the sea. In other words, the memory of the a very important perspective because what this film does, which no other movie does quite as well, is to depict war as The Death of Innocence.

The Life of Miss Pebble
Jack M. Walter | Baltimore, MD | 10/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This movie has been considered a classic in Japan since its release in 1954, and it's easy to see why. It begins as a charming, innocent portrait of a new teacher and her first grade class and slowly deepens into a touching yet realistic depiction of how each child's life goes on in its own way. Some of the children prosper, some fall into poverty and tragedy, but the matter-of-fact way that profound emotional issues are handled in this film without putting off the viewer is a feat that has never been accomplished so well before or since. A truly remarkable piece of art."
A very good film spanning decades
Ted | Pennsylvania, USA | 10/19/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This review is for the Criteiron Collection DVD edition of the film.

Twenty Four Eyes was released in Japan as Nijushi no hitomi. The film is one of the most critically acclaimed in Japan despite its obscurity outside of Japan.

It follows the lives of 12 students (the title is derived from the 12 students) at a school on a remote island in late 1920's Japan from their days as students to adulthood. I found it to be a great film and thought the storyline to be really good too. The film covers themes such as World War II, life and death.

The DVD has one special feature which is an interview with Tadao Sato, a Japanese film scholar who discusses the film and its director."
The simple joys & sorrows of life
William Timothy Lukeman | 04/21/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I didn't quite know what to expect from this film ... but as the last of its 156 minutes played, I wished it could have been even longer, although that would have meant a few more lumps in the throat & teary-eyed moments. It's a deeply moving film, and its sentimental scenes are truly earned & not the least bit gratuitous or pandering.

The story: a young woman begins her first teaching job on a small island village in Japan, with 12 students in her first grade class (hence the 24 eyes of the title). This opening sequence is charming & gentle, with the worst of the children's problems & woes easily mended with a few kind words & an understanding heart.

But as the children grow older, remaining in touch with their beloved teacher over the years, the harsher aspects of life begin to take their toll. First the Great Depression, then the rise of Japanese militarism -- and the teacher can only watch, sick at heart, as promising futures are dashed & redirected by family & social pressures.

While set in Japan during a specific period of history, the themes are timeless & universal, sad to say. When Japan continues its buildup to the Second World War, the patriotic songs & marches seem all too familiar -- as do the warnings from higher-ups in the school system that their job is to create obedient, patriotic citizens, willing to serve the state without question. It's made clear to our troubled teacher that any mention of other, antiwar possibilities are strictly forbidden, lest she be accused of being "a Red."

Yet she does what she can, telling her male students that she'd be just as proud of them for becoming farmers or clerks or rice merchants, rather than becoming soldiers. The boys, of course, are caught up in shining visions of military glory & honor, without the slightest notion of the dark & bloody reality behind them.

At the same time, she also struggles to help her female students become more than what family & society have prepared them to be ... not always successfully. Why does she struggle against such hopeless odds? Not so much for political or ideological reasons, but because of her individual compassion & spirit. These struggles even go on within her own family, as her husband is drafted & her own young sons dream of becoming soldiers themselves.

Covering nearly 20 years, the film has an elegiac tone, a sense of memories washing up over & over again upon the same shore which opens & closes the film. Hideko Takamine is superb as the teacher, nicknamed "Miss Pebble" by her students, changing over the years from the fresh-faced young woman who appears in Western clothes, riding a bicycle through the shocked village, to the middle-aged woman both wounded & tempered by loss & grief, still refusing to surrender to despair.

156 minutes may sound daunting, but don't let that stop you from watching this richly rewarding film. Most highly recommended!"