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Little House, The
The Little House is a period-piece drama film from acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Yoji Yamada (The Twilight Samurai). The film was produced by Tadashi Ohsumi. It is based upon the award winning novel written by Kyoko Nakajima. The story explores Japan during the years of 1931-1945.
The film begins with the funeral of the elderly Taki (Chieko Baisho). As the story unfolds, the film flashes back to explore how Taki's great-nephew Takeshi (Satoshi Tsumabuki) would spend time visiting her and discussing her history with her during a number of visits. Takeshi suggested that she should write an autobiography of her life. Taki began writing one and recounting the time she spent living with a married couple in Tokyo. The story explores Taki's years at the "little house" and goes through WWII and the changing times of Japan in the 1940's.
Young Taki (Haru Kuroki) worked as a servant to the married couple's household. Taki recounts how this was considered a good job in the her younger days. She was pleased to be able to serve Tokiko (Takako Matsu), who was the married matron but her time spent working with them was something that became difficult when Tokiko started to fall in love with her husband's artistic co-worker Mr. Itakura (Hidetaka Yoshioka).
The film goes back and forth between the elderly Taki as she is writing her autobiography and the younger Taki as she is living in the little house and serving Tokiko. The romance between Tokiko and Mr. Itakura is explored as one of the main aspects of the story. The film is both a personal drama and something that explores the history and times of Japan during the 30's & 40's.
The film has a wonderfully mounted production. The cinematography by Masashi Chikamori (Kyoto Story) is absolutely gorgeous. The aesthetic of the photography is exquisite and it adds much to the filmmaking. The art direction was done by Yamada's Tokyo Family collaborators Mitsuo Degawa (The Yellow Handkerchief) and Daisuke Sue. The period-piece work done by Degawa and Sue proves to be essential to both the story and filmmaking. The costumes were exceptional. One of the best things about the film is the remarkably beautiful score composed by acclaimed composer Joe Hisaishi (who composed the music for every film by the great Hayao Miyazaki). The music adds a great deal to the filmmaking and is both beautiful and deeply sad at times.
Directed by 83 year old filmmaker Yoji Yamada (who has famously directed 46 films in the long-running Tora-San film series), The Little House is another successful period-drama by Yamada. The direction is superb throughout and the performances brought forth by the actors was impressive. Haru Kuroki won Best Supporting Actress at the Japanese Academy Awards for her performance as the young Taki. Yamada wrote the screenplay with Emiko Hiramatsu (Love and Honor) and the collaborators brought the film together in an effective way. The Little House is a compelling film which is worth seeking out for fans of Japanese cinema.
The Little House arrives on Blu-ray from Twilight Time with a stunning 1080p High Definition presentation. This is a impressive encode with great clarity, depth, and color reproduction. The image is remarkably good and satisfying. There are no issues with the presentation. It's a high quality encode of a beautiful film. Presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1.
Presented with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. This is a strong lossless audio presentation with excellent fidelity. The clarity of the audio is strong. Dialogue reproduction is excellent. The surrounds are used minimally during the film but when they are the sound design was quite effective and impressive. The English subtitles provided on this release are also excellent.
Twilight Time has provided this release with a booklet featuring an essay written by Julie Kirgo. On-disc supplements include an Isolated Score Track (of Joe Hisaishi's magnificent music) in lossless audio. The original Theatrical Trailers for The Little House are also included.
Nominated for 9 Japanese Academy Awards, The Little House is an excellent effort by acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Yoji Yamada (The Twilight Samurai). Twilight Time has given the film a high-quality Blu-ray release with an excellent presentation. Fans of Yamada and of Japanese cinema should consider getting this release of The Little House.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.