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    The Sea is Watching

    ‘The Sea is Watching’ is the last screenplay by the legendary Japanese director, Akira Kurasawa. Kurasawa died before the film went into the production, and his son chose director Kei Kumai to direct his father’s last work. The story takes place in the red-light district of nineteenth century Japan and features a young, naive geisha named O-Shin who falls for a troubled samurai, Fusanosuke.

    I’ve never been particularly fond of subtitled films because the dialogue can go by very quickly, especially in cultures’ in which their’ language allows them to say more while speaking less. I also found it difficult to read dialogue and pay attention to what’s physically happening in the scene at the same time.

    Because of these issues, I was a bit skeptical in whether or not I would truly enjoy this film. Fortunately, the artful direction of Kumai and Kurasawa’s dialogue made it easier for me to enjoy the artfulness of this film and the overall message of the story.

    There was not too much dialogue in this film. It was mostly the connection between the characters that spoke for them. For instance, the first night O-Shin and Fusanosuke spend together, they spend kneeling before one another in silence. This astounded O-Shin and led her’ to have’ arduous feelings for Fusanosuke.

    I really liked this about the film because the connection between the two characters can be determined by the viewer as opposed to the viewer being told that’ ‘these two characters have an emotional connection.’ I felt this was a powerful technique.

    O-Shin’ plays the girl-next-door. While her fellow geishas laugh emptily at’ the serious conversations’ her clients offer, O-Shin actually tries to understand the men she works for and feels compassion for them in the process.

    O-Shin seems much more dignified as well. The first scene of the film portrays the geishas being forceful and aggressive in trying to obtain clients. They grab at men’s arms and forcefully pull them into brothels, while speaking suggestively.

    As Fusanosuke comes to the red-light area, a geisha goes up to him trying to solicit him for sex most aggressively and insults him when he rejects her. Instead of doing the same, O-Shin calmly stands by the door of the brothel and allowed Fusanosuke to come up to her instead. I like the fact that she’ is reserved and soft-spoken, except at times I think she comes off as coy and almost nun-like.

    ‘The Sea is Watching’ is a story of love that many people can relate to regardless of how much they understand about the Japanese Edo period. In his story of love, Kurasawa was able to transcend language and cultural barriers alike.

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