Yoshidayama, a small hill of the suburb of Kyoto, was all green in the early summer sun. Prof. Yagihara of Kyoto University was on an excursion with his wife and his only daughter, Yukie, together with seven of his students. They were all having fun on the hill when they were surprised by the sound of machine-gun shots from a nearby field where an army maneuver was going on.
It was 1933. The Japanese Army had taken Manchuria and planned to control the Japanese people with its expansionistic ambitions. It interfered even with education. Many liberalists were exiled from schools. Kyoto University was no exception. Liberal-minded Prof. Yagihara had to leave. Many of his students left with him. Noge was among them and he joined the leftist movement. On the other hand, Itokawa, the most talented of his students, was opportunistic and chose to stay with the university.
Yukie was attracted more by the active and passionate Noge than by Itokawa. She dreamed of a thrilling life with Noge. But soon after this he was arrested and sent to prison. Eight years passed before they could see each other again.
In 1941, Yagihara was a lawyer helping the poor. Yukie came to Tokyo to get a job. She happened to see Itokawa on the street. Itokawa had become a prosecutor in the meantime. He told her that Noge was also in Tokyo. Yukie went to see him in his apartment and found him absorbed in an anti-militarism movement disguised by what was supposed to be a study of China.
Yukie lived with him. But their happy days did not last long. Noge was arrested and charged with being an international spy. Also Yukie had to undergo all kinds of questioning and humiliation under the hands of cruel investigators. She fought desperately for her lover.
A few days later Yagihara came to Tokyo and applied to be Noge’s defense lawyer. But he and Yukie were shocked when Itokawa, the prosecutor in charge of Noge’s case, revealed that Noge had died in prison.
Yukie barely managed to control herself and went to live with Noge’s parents who were farmers. But what she saw there shocked her. Noge7s old parents were forced to stay mostly at home because of the scorn and oppression of the villagers. Yukie’s fight began again. She went out into the fields with Noge’s old mother in any weather. But the villagers destroyed the saplings in Noge’s fields. She continued sacrificing herself for the love of the dead Noge. And she toughened and even drove Itokawa away when he came to visit Noge’s grave.
With the end of the Pacific War freedom was revived in Japan. Prof. Yagihara returned to Kyoto University amid the applause of the people. Yukie came to celebrate with him in Kyoto. She asked her parents’ approval of what she was doing and went back to the farm village where Noge’s parents were waiting.
In the meantime the people had come to understand Noge’s philosophy and his important role in history. Before leaving Yukie climbed Yoshidayama hill and recalled her younger days, confirming for herself that there should be no regrets at all.
- Akira Kurosawa
- Eijiro Hisaita
- Japan Release year
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