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Niju-shi no hotomi | Keisuke Kinoshita, 1954
Japan | Format: 35mm | 162 minutes
Chosen as Best Japanese Film of 1954 by Kinema Junpo magazine, beating out among other films The Seven Samurai, Twenty-Four Eyes is widely consider Kinoshita’s masterpiece, and remains as popular today with Japanese audiences as when first released. In 1928, a new teacher (Hideko Takamine, magnificent) arrives in a small seaside town; progressive and open-minded, she attempts to instill those same values in her students, even as the dark clouds of Japanese militarism start to affect so many aspects of daily life. Kinoshita’s film follows the teacher and her charges (the “twenty-four eyes” who were her students) for twenty years, into the postwar era, chronicling their struggles, joys, sorrows and hopes for the future. Susan Sontag included Twenty-Four Eyes in a series on “Best Japanese Films” she curated at the Japan Society shortly before her death.