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THE MOST BEAUTIFUL

Original Title:
一番美しく
© 1944 TOHO © 1944 TOHO

Story

In the year 1944, near the end of the Pacific War, under the name of the women's volunteer corps, young women are being sent off to various munitions factories around Japan. At Toa Optical Co., a company that makes lenses for precision weapons, several female personnel live in dormitories, spending every moment together. One day at the factory, an emergency production increase campaign begins, and for the next four months, target allocation is split as 100% males, and 50% females. The pure-spirited female personnel take initiative and request that they be allocated two-thirds of the workload of the men. The female personnel are led by Tsuru, who works in the scale calibration room, and are looked after by the warm-eyed matron Mizushima. In the beginning, the female personnel steadily increase their production, but eventually, they can no longer hide their fatigue. Hisae pleads to Tsuru that her persistent mild fever be kept a secret. Asako, who seems to be fine, is forced to return home due to her illness. On a day of electricity conservation, Sachiko sprains her ankle and is forced to go to the hospital, resulting in even less staff. The factory worries about their fatigue, and through the matron Mizushima, they recommend that the female personnel take a leave and engage in various recreational activities, such as practicing for the drum and fife band on holidays and after work, or to play volleyball to refresh themselves. While Mizushima waits for Asako, who has fully recovered at the hospital, Hisae makes a slight mistake, which develops into an argument with Sue and Toshiko. Tsuru intervenes and tries to protect Hisae, but not knowing Hisae’s health condition, Sue and Toshiko lash out at Tsuru. Until the misunderstanding is resolved, the female personnel are filled with distrust towards each other. Eventually, Mizushima returns with the fully recovered Asako. The female personnel explain through tears how during Mizushima’s absence, they lashed out at Tsuru due to distrust, and about other conflicts that had occurred at the dorm. Meanwhile, Tsuru is in the factory. One uncalibrated lens has gotten mixed with the finished lenses, so Tsuru, filled with a sense of responsibility, remains alone in the calibration room and checks 2000 lenses. Tsuru sings military songs as she carries out her work. When she stumbles out of the calibration room, she is met with a warm welcome by her section chief and Mizushima. The following day, Tsuru receives a notice from her father back home that her mother has passed away. However, Tsuru makes no effort to return to her family, and asks Mizushima to give the weakened Hisae some rest. Tsuru goes out into the garden, looks up to the sky, and sheds a tear at the beautiful moon.

© 1944 TOHO

Data

Director
Akira Kurosawa
Screenplay
Akira Kurosawa
Cast
Takashi Shimura
Soji Kiyokawa
Ichiro Sugai
Takako Irie
Yoko Yaguchi
Sayuri Tanima
Sachiko Ozaki
Shizuko Nishigaki
Akitake Kono
Release Date in Japan
1944
Running Time
85min.
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