Ori Ume

31 08 2009

Oriume - Japan

“Ori Ume”
Japanese Title: 「折り梅」
Director: Hisako Matsui
(Japan, 2002)

Based on a true story, the film starts when an elderly woman named Masako was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Her suffering affected her son Yuzo’s family who decided to take care of her. The most affected of the family is Tomoe, Yuzo’s wife. Tomoe had to do something protect her mother-in-law who at first couldn’t accept the fact that she has Alzheimer’s. For every violent act that Masako has done, it felt sad that in the end, she just forget know what happened; Masako even reached to a point when she physically hurt Tomoe who had to endure it because of her awareness of the disease that her mother-in-law had. She would complain to Yuzo about Masako every night and she also had to face humiliation in front of other people because of her mother-in-law.

Tomoe had to do something to preserve her family and at the same time tame her mother-in-law and accept her condition.

What I learned from this film is the idea of understanding other people’s condition or feelings and not hesitating to ask them what we can do for them so that we can bring peace to everyone. I personally liked Masako’s story of the apricot tree which is the tree of the mothers and it brings her back to her childhood memories of being with her mother near the beach. When you learn about people through listening to their stories and words of wisdom, you can find a way to connect with them and empathize with them. And you do end up caring for them. Sometimes, we have to be in someone else’s world so that we can give them the best treatment that they think they deserve. And this was the case with Tomoe who struggled to make peace with Masako.

As clear as the film could be in terms of plot, it did have tearjerking moments. And once again, a Japanese film was able to silence its audience on the most important parts. This film was shown in the Japan Foundation weeks ago and usually, we do meet people and talk at the end of the film. I was able to speak with a gentleman who told me exactly, “I lived that movie!”, because he did have a loved one who has Alzheimers and his family had to struggle in taking care of her until they figured out that those with mental disabilities like the ones with Alzheimer’s have a world of their own and have an understanding that they carry throughout their lives as they attain the disease. And the responsibility of the loved ones is to make sure that they don’t mess with the world that the people with Alzheimer’s created and show love all the time even in small gestures.



8 07 2009

Departures - Japan

Japanese Title: 「おくりびと」
Director: Yôjirô Takita
(Japan, 2008)


It’s been a while since the last time I went to the movies. I was able to watch this film for free cause I was volunteering for a Japanese cultural institution here in Toronto. I got free tickets for two and I invited over my brother, who’s also a big Japanese culture fan like me.

If you still haven’t heard, Departures won the Oscars for best Foreign Language Film. And I was able to watch it in a very traditional way – in the theatre of course where you can see how people react to the film and how the atmosphere is really created as the story goes on in the life of a musician who ended up to work on grooming the dead and putting them in their coffin.

One of the well-known aspects of Japanese film – and still unfailing to move us – is on how they address the issue of “death”. Departures showed three things that made me aware of what the death of a person is all about: it pleads your respect, it asks you to think about or maybe imagine their lives and through your emotions, the dead is loved and honoured. I was so shocked to see a very attentive audience, they’re all silent at the right moment of the film, at the most emotional part, I feel great pain for the families that lost their loved ones in the film. With respect, we become concerned and we open our hearts and minds for the dead and give them the love and honour that we should give them.

But the roles of Daigo and his boss even intensifies this. As I showed sadness for the dead, the two suddenly makes the dead alive as if they called their souls back to present themselves to their loved ones one last time before they are gone for good.

The other issue I found about this film is quite simple with regards to Daigo who suddenly finds himself going back to his homeland just to find a better way to earn money. When someone is at a desperate situation, they will even sacrifice their dignity and be ridiculed by society just to keep surviving. This is quite predictable. But of course, I don’t think the job of grooming dead people are being glorified here cause it was never about Daigo or Sasaki, his boss. It was all about those who have died – in the end, they deserve to be remembered for all the great things that they’ve done while living here on earth. And this too became a challenge for Daigo as he faces the truth about his father who left him and his mother at a young age.

Overall, I really love the camera works and the colours that bring life to every scene of the film. The actors definitely did a great job. Although the story is predictable, the little scenes become more important than the entire story which is way magical in my mind.