May 7, 1995 [Picture Bride]

Toshiro Mifune suddenly arrives in Picture Bride to run a silent film in a sugar cane field and narrate the excitement on the makeshift screen.  He is an artificial samurai in a genuine war: between men and women, between labor and management, between lies intended to help and the truth that hurts and heals.  All of these big ideas occur in fields and by the ocean--both of them big, to be sure, but nothing like the cities and factories of other workers, where there’s little room to run and find.  Here in Hawaii it’s all green and blue and blue-green, with ghosts singing and water tumbling down.

Rio comes all the way from Japan to meet her husband for the first time--his photograph, though, is only a memento of his youth, while his actual self proves a trial. 

But like so many farm tales in the movies, there is something noble stirring in the waving fields, a sense of heroism against the rages of nature and men, and a tender touch for lost children and the souls of the departed.  Riyo does not want to stay--but she also doesn’t go.  Instead, she stands up and gets to work and finds nobility without anyone’s help.  It’s like The Grapes of Wrath without the long final stare into nothing--because no matter what, the mornings are bright, if you get up early enough to see them.  And if you’re as good as Rio at work and love, you find the strength to dance.


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