Nobody Knows (Dare mo shiranai)

July 30, 2007

I was really impressed how the story was told through visual imagery instead of mostly just dialogue.  It really makes it easier to “translate” across language and culture when we see recognizable situations that paint a picture of the children’s lives.

However, it’s hard to watch this movie and not think of “Grave of the Fireflies”.   I kept thinking how caring the children were to each other in that film, and how when the boy’s little sister died, I actually cried.  When Yuki died in “Nobody Knows”, I didn’t cry.  I suppose I cared a bit, and it was sad, but even the girl’s own siblings didn’t seem to mourn her death.  To me, if a little girl dies in a movie and it’s not heartbreaking, then the director is doing something wrong.  Plus I just couldn’t believe the kids didn’t get the girl a doctor when she fell off the chair.  If they don’t even care about her, why should I care about the movie anymore?

The title is also a bit misleading.  “Nobody Knows”?  Well, Saki knew, the convenience store workers knew, Akira’s “friends” knew, 2 of the “fathers” knew,  and I’m sure the landlord had a good idea what was going on.  It’s not that no one knew, they just didn’t want to get involved.  And I don’t know what Saki’s excuse was, besides the fact that Akira had pushed her away.  Perhaps her personal feelings got in the way of what she knew would have been the right thing to do.

One really good thing about this movie was the acting.  The children they had for these roles were really fantastic, and I thought they brought a lot of realism to the movie.


One comment

  1. This was a difficult but well-made film. When I saw it in the theatre, I was made to feel the weight of time: the slowly deteriorating world of the children.

    I believe that the children did care about their little sister but their universe had become so distorted by that point that they didn’t know how to react and children don’t see things rationally to begin with. I’ve been toying with a connection between their treatment and the fact that they were born out of wedlock – perhaps on a subtle level, to be buried, ignored, not “seen” – but I haven’t been wholly successful.

    I suppose that the title reflects a very common social phenomenon of rationalizing situations we don’t want to get involved in so that we believe that nothing is really wrong or that it isn’t any of our business. When I was teaching in the public schools, teachers would “see” but not “see” an abused child. People in large groups take behavior cues from others – this is why a crime victim is less likely to be helped when there are many witnesses as opposed to just a few. For example, this past week there was a story on our local news about a woman who was raped in the hallway of her apartment building. The security camera captured many witnesses walking by, sticking their heads out of their apartment doors, but no one helps. Why? According to the behavioral expert they interviewed, those witnesses were telling themselves that it wasn’t what they thought it was. You know but you don’t know. This is what the film’s title evokes for me. The director based this film on a true story of four children abandonded in Tokyo – they said nothing because they didn’t want to be separated by the system.

    If you are interested, this director made an ealier film called AFTER LIFE that is very clever. You write well about film – perhaps you should become a reviewer.

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