Japan film shows mother as hero through WW2 hell

Wed Feb 13, 2008 8:26am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Mike Collett-White

BERLIN (Reuters) - A moving Japanese film based on a true story shows how a selfless mother's love for her children helped the family survive tragedy and danger brought on by the conflict with China and soon after it, World War Two.

Veteran director Yoji Yamada, best known in the West for his samurai trilogy starting with "The Twilight Samuria," based his new film "Kabei - Our Mother" on the memoirs of Teruyo Nogami.

The film screened in the main competition at the Berlin Film Festival on Wednesday.

"Kabei" is set in the outskirts of Tokyo where Kayo Nogami, known as Kabei by her family, lives a frugal but happy life with husband Shigeru and two daughters, Hatsuko and Terumi.

Without warning Shigeru is detained by police under the Peace Preservation Law under which to speak out against war was considered a crime against the state.

Throughout the movie, set mainly in Kabei's small but meticulously kept home, the military buildup and society's growing intolerance to dissent is felt, while key moments in history like Pearl Harbor are relayed through radio broadcasts.

Pressured by the authorities to recant, the prisoner of conscience refuses to back down, leaving the serene Kabei, played by Sayuri Yoshinaga, to fend for herself.

Family and friends rally around, but in the end Kabei must bear the burden of raising the family alone at the same time as living with the loss of some of the people she loves most.   Continued...

<p>Actress Sayuri Yoshinaga attends a news conference to present the Japanese film 'Kabei' (Kabei - Our mother) running in the competition at the 58th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, February 13, 2008. The 58th Berlinale, one of the world's most prestigious film festivals, runs from February 7 to 17 in the German capital. REUTERS/Johannes Eisele</p>