Twenty-Four Eyes (1954)

Twenty-Four Eyes (Nijûshi no hitomi)Twenty_Four_Eyes_23
Directed by Keisuke Kinoshita
Written by Keisuke Kinoshita from a novel by Sakae Tsuboi
1954/Japn
Shôchiku Eiga
First viewing/Hulu

 

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. ~Henry Brooks Adams

In one of Japan’s most beloved films, Kinoshita traces Japanese history for the previous two decades through the life of a school teacher.

The story begins in 1934 as Sensei Oishi (Hideko Takamine) takes her first assignment as a first grade teacher  on a rural island.  The school is some distance from her home so she rides her bicycle to get there.  The villagers are aghast at both the bike and the teacher’s Western clothes.  It is clear that she is talented, though, and her students love her.  One day, she falls and injures her ankle due to a prank they pull.  She can no longer go to school so her little pupils make a long journey on foot to visit her.  She intercepts them half way and treats the whole class to lunch.  This breaks the ice with the parents who learn to appreciate her as well.  But she is soon transferred to a middle school close to her home on the main island and must say goodbye to her students.

She meets up with them four years later in middle school.  By this time the Great Depression is on and her students and their families struggle to get by.  Some of the students are forced to drop out.  The compassionate teacher feels each loss deeply and stays in touch with the drop-outs.

Niju-shi_no_Hitomi_poster

As Japan begins the war in Manchuria it becomes very unsafe for teachers to speak their real feelings.  The boys are starting to dream of being soldiers, which our teacher discourages.  She is counseled against this and quits her job, starting a sweet shop.  By this time she has a husband and three children.  Her husband eventually goes to war.  We follow her loss and hardship during the war and the lean post-war years.  With Chishû Ryû as another teacher.

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This is a beautiful film.  I especially enjoyed the rural scenery.  The leading lady does a good job in role in which she ages considerably.  The children are adorable. There are buckets of tears shed but somehow it’s not too melodramatic.  The score is very nice as well. Recommended.

 

6 thoughts on “Twenty-Four Eyes (1954)

  1. (Bea you knew I’d have to comment didn’t you? LOL)
    Came across this a few months ago and one of the best movies I’ve seen in years. For me I had to give it a bit of time to set up but it just built and built to really grab me in the end.
    You can make a nice old/modern double with the somewhat similarly themed A Chorus of Angels (Kita no Kanariatachi) 2012. Just to clarify, it is not a remake.
    I might add – perhaps not both in the same watch as that would be a bit hard on the emotions IMHO.

    • Wasn’t the ending with the bicycle the most touching thing ever? I’ll have to look out for A Chorus of Angels. So many movies, so little time!

  2. Just doing an old movie browsathon nia your blog

    “The story begins in 1954”

    Amend to 1934 if you edit older posts? (no blame as I missed it completely in January!)

  3. GAG “nia” = via and I also meant to add “thanks again for these wonderful reviews which are like a roadmap summary of excellent flicks over the years with the occasional ‘move along, nothing to see here’ thrown in for good measure heh heh

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