Rhapsody in August (Hachigatsu no kyōshikyoku) is a full-length Japanese movie that was directed by the amazing Akira Kurosawa. Rhapsody in August was released in 1991 and is one of the director’s final movies. Kurosawa has been honored in many different ways and truly brought the opinion of Japanese movies, especially in the West, to new heights. Rhapsody in August has spawned a number of heated debates because of the delicate subject of the story.
Rhapsody in August centers around Kane, an older widow. Kane’s husband was killed in the bombing of Nagasaki. The movie also features Kane’s children and grandchildren. Kane’s grandchildren come to visit her in the summer. The kids are bored with the rural life of the town their grandmother lives in and decide to head into Nagasaki. They end up visiting the place where their grandfather was killed in 1945 and finally become aware of how terrible the bombing was. They start respecting what occurred and find themselves respecting their grandmother for all that she has endured. They wind up feeling hatred for the United States while visiting the site.
The children’s parents, however, have left to visit a man that they believe is Kane’s brother. He has been living in Hawaii and they are curious to find out if he is whom they think he is. The Americans, meanwhile, offer the parents jobs helping them to manage the pineapple fields that they own in Hawaii. They are very well off and want to spread the wealth amongst the rest of the family. The grandchildren, still upset over the bomb and angry at Americans, get very upset with their parents. The parents get upset back and things get complicated. One of the cousins from America, a Japanese-American named Clark (played by Richard Gere) goes to Japan in order to be with Kane during the anniversary of the bombing. He manages to come to terms with the grandchildren and come to an understanding during his trip there.
Rhapsody in August was actually released at a very controversial time. It was the anniversary of the bombing, and because of such a lot of people had a hard time watching it. It stirred up controversy on both sides of the ocean. He was criticized at the Cannes Film Festival and was thought to be chauvinistic because he portrayed the Japanese as the victims of the war. In America, critics hard a hard time believing Richard Gere as Clark, not only because of his fame but also because of how apologetic Clark is in the movie.