- Title : Fukai Kawa Deep River (J-Movie) (1995)
- Alternative Title(s) : Fukai Kawa Deep River
- Hardsubbed or Softsubbed: Softsubbed
- English Subtitles: Yes
- Date Aired (YYYY-MM-DD): 1996
Several Japanese men and women who have different reasons and aims for going to India on a tour of Buddhist holy sites. All the characters are in deep personal need, and they hunger and thirst for the meaning of life.
Let me start with a quote from – Christ in Japanese Culture: Theological Themes in Shusaku Endo’s Literary Works by Emi Mase-Hasegawa. “Deep River was published as a novel three years before Endo’s death in 1996. Fighting with pain, his diary indicates that Endo knew that it was going to be his last novel. From the day he began kidney dialysis, he anticipated having only two more years to finish the novel.”
“Soon after the Deep River was published, it was made into a movie. It attracted audiences, both young and old, in Japan. From their reactions after the movie, it was clear that Endo’s message had reached Japanese people, and touched individuals’ heart strings.”
As Shusaku Endo knew this would be his last novel, it was written I suspect, as much to clarify in his own mind the truths of life and death as to expound any theories for the consumption of his readers. He was greatly influenced by his Christian mother and upbringing, but was also open to all religions and philosophies. In the novel he evolves a pantheistic vision, consistent with Buddhist and Hindu ideas merging with his vision of a both personal and impersonal divine presence, a sort of universal consciousness both transcendent and immanent to the consciousness of each individual.
The title, Fukai kawa (Deep River) refers both to the deep current that is life and consciousness and the River Ganges (Ganga) as a living symbol of that. Hindus believe that the river Ganga can wash away karma, guilt, sin… whatever separates us from the Truth. I don’t want to be too long winded but let me quote Mase-Hasegawa one more time: “Through Mitsuko, Endo wants to say that every individual carries his or her own burdens and the river embraces these people and carries them away. Each individual is a tiny water drop that comes into the stream of life, and the vast river flows downstream naturally. The water flows gracefully for hundreds of years, not opposing the natural law, and settles ‘as it is’ into the ocean. The huge life force of the river keeps the water flowing toward the one stream of life.”
I have read opinions that this is Kei Kumai’s best film. I’d have to agree. Though no film can encompass the detailed breadth of a novel, Kei Kumai’s film is faithful to the novel and expresses its spirit with respect and beauty. Many essential dialogues from the novel are used in the film. Teizô Matsumura’s music catches beautifully the profundity of the theme and the bitter-sweet quality of the story.
(As an interesting side note: Matsumura and Kumai collaborated on many films over many years. Kumai died on May 23, 2007, aged 77. Matsumura followed him less than 3 months later on August 6th of the same year, aged 78.)
The acting is very good throughout. Toshiro Mifune’s role is small but powerful, a fitting end to an unequaled career. Eiji Okuda and Hisashi Igawa who often worked with Kumai are also strong in their roles. Yoichi Yumata as the old soldier grieving his lost comrades and Kumiko Akiyoshi in the central role of Mitsuko are no less impressive. All the actors succeed with Kumai in portraying a very difficult story of deep emotion without ever being melodramatic.GD Star RatingFukai Kawa Deep River (J-Movie) (1995),
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