Black Rain

1989 [JAPANESE]

Drama / War

4
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 54% · 24 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 55% · 25K ratings
IMDb Rating 7.8/10 10 3974 4K

Top cast

Takashi Miike as Factory Worker
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.1 GB
1280*690
Japanese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
2 hr 2 min
Seeds 9
2.04 GB
1920*1036
Japanese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
2 hr 2 min
Seeds 16

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by TheUnknown837-1 8 / 10

A bold, sobering portrait of humanity with a plethora of important sociological footnotes demanding to be explored

I am a pioneer to the films of Shohei Imamura. I've been aware of his legacy, which ranks alongside other Japanese directors such as Yasujiro Ozu and Akira Kurosawa, for a long time but I've only just started to expose myself to his creative prowess. The first and only Imamura movie that I have seen to date is his 1989 film "Black Rain" unrelated to the Michael Douglas thriller of the same name. And all I can say is that based on this one experience, I am more than ecstatic to continue delving into this artist's plethora of films.

Mr. Imamura was celebrated for the way that he provocatively told stories that exposed the good and bad in not mankind, but the society of his own country. In this film, for example, he examines the effects of the bombing of Hiroshima on a small group of people. However, as one would not expect from a Japanese filmmaker (or any director, regardless of his race) he does not go for a sentimental approach. He does not go for a cheap shot plot that could be worked into a target for political controversy and false anti-American accusations.

"Black Rain" is not about who dropped the bomb or why it was dropped. What it is about is the way that the bombing or Hiroshima and Nagasaki influenced not only the physical health of Japanese people, but their morality and sense of ethics. After the movie's sobering open, it follows an aunt and uncle and their attempts to find a husband for their niece. The problem is that all three of them were exposed to the radiation of the H-bomb and have, in many ways, been shunned by those who were fortunate enough to escape the nuclear holocaust. During this time, radiation poisoning was like a scarlet letter: a label forewarning the healthy from the condemned as if the victims of Hiroshima had brought this tragedy upon themselves. Just as people in the United States turned on each other after the loss of the Vietnam War, the people of Japan turned on each other following their loss. And Mr. Imamura shows that with astounding detail.

That great New York Times critic Vincent Canby made a sobering remark in his excellent review of the film. Mr. Imamura's intent was not to make us weep, but to open our eyes and make us think about our own morality. Because after all, isn't there a fair amount of scapegoating placed upon people with tuberculosis, cancer, and AIDS in our own society?

Mr. Imamura, like his peer Akira Kurosawa, was clearly an artist with an eye for detail. It can be found all throughout his film, but just look at the opening sequence, depicting the bombing. There is a real sense of horror in the movie as we see the mushroom cloud, the poisonous black rain, and finally the decimation of the city itself. As many characters in this scene note, "Hiroshima is gone" and replaced with an apocalypse created by man.

Mr. Imamura co-wrote the screenplay with Toshiro Ishido and created a very memorable story. He has also has a great cast. Kazuo Kitamura and Etsuko Ichihara are convincing both physically and psychically as the aunt and uncle fearing their own deaths but hoping for a better life for their niece. She is played by Yoshiko Tanaka, a very good actress whom Godzilla fans will likely recognize. Supporing performances are created by Shoichi Ozawa, Keisuek Ishida, Akiji Kobayashi, and many others, all of whom help complete this magnificent, haunting portrait of humanity.

"Black Rain" is a very, very good movie that I think should be required study in not only film and film history classes, but sociology as well. For there is a lot of psychological footnotes made by Mr. Imamura regarding society, ethics, and social status. And furthermore, he had the guts not to wrap up with a throwaway ending, but an ending that leaves you in the place of many Japanese people of the late 40s/early 50s: hoping for the best, but fearing the worst.

Reviewed by zetes 9 / 10

Not one of my favorite Imamura films, but powerful, most certainly

Shohei Imamura's account of the bombing of Hiroshima and its aftermath. Kazuo Kitamura and Etsuko Ichihara play a middle aged couple who, along with their niece, Yoshiko Tanaka, live on the outskirts of Hiroshima when the atomic bomb is dropped. They live with minor injuries while they explore the horrific aftermath (shown in three different segments, the latter two being flashbacks). The Hiroshima segments in the film are absolutely devastating, just horrifyingly graphic. The bulk of the film takes place five years later. The uncle is trying to negotiate his niece's marriage, but she is tainted in public opinion because of her presence at Hiroshima (people assume she's not healthy, as many other people who were there are not). The film is quietly devastating. I wouldn't consider it one of Imamura's masterpieces, but it's a fine film. Tanaka, in particular, is brilliant, and I loved the score. The black and white cinematography is quite pretty, too.

Reviewed by howard.schumann 9 / 10

Shows deep compassion for humanity

Shohei Imamaura's Black Rain was released in 1989 just at the onset of the AIDS epidemic, a fact that gives the film about the slow deterioration of Hiroshima radiation victims an added poignancy. The black rain in the title refers to the combination of ash, radioactive fallout, and water that fell one or two hours after the explosion. There have been other books and films about the dropping of the atomic bomb but none as unique and powerful as this one. Based on a novel by Masuji Ibuse who gathered information from interviews and the diaries of real-life bomb victims, the film depicts how an entire family is affected psychologically as well as physically by the bomb years after the original explosion. It is a horrifying vision but one that resonates with deep compassion for humanity.

The film begins in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 as soldiers and civilians go about their normal daily activities. Suddenly a blinding light flashes and a thunderous blast is heard. Almost every single building is destroyed or damaged beyond repair. The first atomic bomb ever dropped on a city is now a part of history. Survivors must somehow restart their lives, unaware of the bomb's devastating after effects. Filmed in high-contrast black and white, the story centers around Yasuko (Yoshiko Tanaka), a young woman who is caught in the radioactive rain as her boat heads back to the city to search for friends and relatives. In Hiroshima, Imamura shows us indelible images that remain with us: a young boy with skin hanging from his body pleads with his brother to recognize him, an older man is in tears over his inability to free his son from piles of debris, a mother is in torment as she rocks the blackened body of her child.

When the family returns to their rural home, Yasuko's life is forever changed. She sees her friends dying around her and waits for the inevitable bouts of radiation sickness that have already affected her Uncle Shigematsu Shimuza (Kazuo Kitamura) and Aunt Shigeko Shimuza (Etsuko Ichihara). Pretending that there is only business as usual, the family denies that the bomb has affected Yasuko. "She forgot how Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed. Everyone forgot it. They forget the hell of fire and go to rallies like an annual festival. I'm sick of it," says a friend Katayama (Akiji Kobayashi). Yasuko internalizes the tragedy, feeling shame for being different than others and guilty for being contaminated.

When her aunt and uncle try to find her a husband, the eligible men refuse to marry her because of suspicions about her health, even though Shigematsu has copied her diary to prove that she wasn't directly exposed to the bomb. The only suitor she feels comfortable with is another damaged man, Yuichi (Keisuke Ishida), who has a panic attack every time he hears the roar of an engine. At the end, the beauty of life shows itself ever so fleetingly when Yasuko goes to the pond and sees a sight she has been longing for all her life, the king carp jumping in the water, playfully as if to say that beyond despair there is still joy. Sadly we hear on the radio statements by politicians about using the bomb once again in the Korean War. "Human beings learn nothing", says Shigematsu. "They strangle themselves. Unjust peace is better than a war of justice. Why can't they see?" Immamura's Black Rain has hopefully allowed all of us to see more clearly.

Read more IMDb reviews

4 Comments

Be the first to leave a comment