Rhapsody in August

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Rhapsody in August
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Produced by Hisao Kurosawa
Written by Akira Kurosawa
Music by Shin’ichirō Ikebe
Distributed by Shochiku Films Ltd.
Release dates
  • 25 May 1991 (1991-05-25)
Running time
98 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese and English

Rhapsody in August (八月の狂詩曲 Hachigatsu no rapusodī (Hachigatsu no kyōshikyoku)?) is a 1991 Japanese film by Akira Kurosawa. The story centers on an elderly hibakusha, who lost her husband in the 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki, caring for her four grandchildren over the summer. She learns of a long-lost brother, Suzujiro, living in Hawaii who wants her to visit him before he dies. American film star Richard Gere appears as Suzujiro's son Clark. The film was selected as the Japanese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 64th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[1]


Rhapsody in August is a tale of three generations and their responses to the atomic bombing of Japan. Kane is an elderly woman whose husband was killed in the bombing of Nagasaki. Next, come her two children and their spouses, all of whom grew up in postwar Japan, as well as their Nisei cousin Clark (played by Richard Gere) who grew up in America. Finally, there are Kane's four grandchildren, who were born after the Japanese economic miracle and provide most of the dialogue in the film.

Kane's grandchildren come to visit her at her rural home on Kyūshū one summer while their parents visit a man who may or may not be Kane's brother in Hawaii. Like most children, they are bored out of their minds, find her cooking to be disgusting, and escape to the urban environment of Nagasaki the first chance they get. While in Nagasaki the children visit the spot where their grandfather was killed in 1945 and become aware of the atomic bombing for the first time in their lives. They slowly come to have more respect for their grandmother and also grow to question the United States for dropping the Bomb.

In the meantime they receive a telegram from their American cousins, who turn out to be rich and offer the parents a job managing their pineapple fields in Hawaii. Matters are complicated when, in their response, the grandchildren mention the attack, which infuriates their parents. To smooth things over, one of the Japanese-Americans (Clark) travels to Japan to be with Kane for the anniversary. While there, Kane and the grandchildren reconcile with Clark over the bombing.



Rhapsody in August received mixed reviews on its release in 1991.

Some critics made much of the fact that the film centered on the film's depiction of the atomic bombing as a war crime while omitting details of Japanese war crimes in the Pacific War. When Rhapsody premiered at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival,[2] one journalist even cried out at a press conference, "Why was the bomb dropped in the first place?" At the Tokyo Film Festival, critics of Japanese militarism said Kurosawa had ignored the historical facts leading up to the bomb. Japanese cultural critic Inuhiko Yomota commented:

"Many critics, myself included, thought Kurosawa chauvinistic in his portrayal of the Japanese as victims of the war, while ignoring the brutal actions of the Japanese and whitewashing them with cheap humanist sentiment."[3]

Kurosawa's response was that wars are between governments, not people, and denied any anti-American agenda.[4]

About the Japanese title[edit]

The Japanese title (八月の狂詩曲 Hachigatsu no rapusodī) is also known as Hachigatsu no kyōshikyoku.[5] "八月" means August, and "狂詩曲" means rhapsody. Both are Japanese kanji words. "狂詩曲" is usually pronounced "kyōshikyoku." When this film released in Japan, 1991, Kurosawa added furigana "ラプソディー rapusodī" to the word "狂詩曲" contrary to the standard usage of Japanese.[6][7][8] So the correct romanization of the official Japanese title is Hachigatsu no rapusodī. But, often, the Japanese title has been cited without the furigana in various media. This is the reason why the misreading Hachigatsu no kyōshikyoku has become more widely known than the correct pronunciation.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Rhapsody in August". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-08-12. 
  3. ^ Hibakusha Cinema:Intro
  4. ^ "Rhapsody In August". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  5. ^ The Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ Shochiku official web site (Japanese)
  7. ^ Akira Kurosawa, Masato Harada. (1995). Akira Kurosawa Talks (黒澤明語る Kurosawa Akira kataru). Benesse Corporation (Japanese)
  8. ^ Kazuko Kurosawa. (2004). Papa, Akira Kurosawa (パパ、黒澤明 Papa, Kurosawa Akira), page 306. Bungei Shunjū. (Japanese)

External links[edit]