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Film / Madadayo

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Mādadayo ("Not Yet") is a 1993 film from Japan directed by Akira Kurosawa.

It is loosely based on the writings of Japanese author and scholar Hyakken Uchida. The film opens in 1943, with "Hyakken Uchida", nearing his 60th birthday (the real Uchida was at this time 54 years old), retiring from teaching German to write full-time. Although he doesn't teach anymore he is still beloved of his students. They come to visit him at the house he rents. That house burns to the ground in an American bombing raid, leaving Uchida and his wife living in a tiny gardener's shack, on the grounds of an enormous mansion which also burned down in a bombing raid. His former students proceed to buy him a house, and then they buy the lot next door to make sure that Uchida has a nice view.

After the war, his students begin throwing him annual birthday parties which they call "Not Yet Fests". At the birthday parties, the students ask him if he's ready to die, singing "Mada kai?" (Are you ready?), a saying traditional to Japanese hide-and-seek. Uchida, by custom, downs an enormous glass of beer and sings "Madadayo!" ("Not yet!).

Akira Kurosawa's last film, directed when he was 83 years old. Although the themes of aging and defiance in the face of mortality are certainly appropriate for Kurosawa's last film, this wasn't specifically intended to be his last. Kurosawa wrote two more screenplays which were delayed by his declining health and were eventually filmed by other directors after Kurosawa's death in 1998.


  • Cool Teacher: Although we only see him teaching in one scene, early in the movie. Uchida rolls into his classroom, sees cigarette smoke, and then tells the students that smoking is forbidden in class. He then admits that rules against smoking always make him want to smoke more. Then he tells the students that he is retiring from teaching.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: The whole point of the Not Yet Fests, where Uchida downs a glass of beer in one go on his birthday, then sings out that he is "not yet" ready to die.
  • Dream Sequence: The film ends with Uchida dreaming of playing hide-and-seek with his friends when he was a child. See also Dying Dream below.
  • Dying Dream: It's not definite, but the Dream Sequence at the end may be this. Uchida has been taken home after falling ill with an irregular heartbeat at his 77th birthday party. He dreams of himself as a boy, playing hide-and-seek. He's hiding, so he burrows himself under some hay and sings out "Madadayo" ("not yet!"), that being the same thing that elderly Uchida sang to defy death at his birthday parties. Then, in the dream, a golden light falls over little boy Uchida in his hiding place. He looks up into the sky at the clouds, as the film ends.
  • Flashback: A brief one where Uchida, disconsolate over the loss of his cat, recounts coming home on the train from a lecture, and briefly seeing his cat in the train station, before the cat disappeared again.
  • Go into the Light: Possibly, if one interprets the dream at the end as a Dying Dream. Uchida, dreaming of himself as a boy, is in the dream bathed in light. He looks up to see the setting sun, and the film ends.
  • Jerkass: The loud, obnoxious businessman in a striped suit, who shows up to buy the lot next door to Uchida's house. When the obnoxious businessman brusquely asserts that he will build a three-story house, which would block Uchida's view, the lot owner refuses to sell. The businessman looses a hail of insults and then leaves. Uchida's students then buy the lot.
  • Manly Tears: Uchida weeps unashamedly after his pet cat disappears.
  • Match Cut: From the doors of the banquet hall being closed as an ill Uchida is taken home, to the doors at Uchida's house opening as the doctor leaves.
  • Narrator: One of Uchida's old students, who comments from time to time about the passing of the years and about his professor's life.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: Uchida is told that his rental house is in a high crime area and has been burgled several times. His solution? At the front door he posts a sign that says "Burglar's entrance." Once a burglar is inside, there's a sign that says "Burglar's passage" with an arrow. This leads to a room that says "Burglar's lounge", with a comfy chair and cigarettes laid out. Then there's another sign that says "Burglar's exit." His house is never robbed.
  • No Name Given: How important is Uchida's wife? Not very, seeing as how she's never even named.
  • One-Gender School: Standard in Japan. Uchida taught at a boys' school.
  • "Pan Up to the Sky" Ending: The Dream Sequence that closes the film ends with the camera panning up to the clouds in a sky pink with sunset; the clouds were not real but were painted by Kurosawa.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Uchida is in the pit of despair, weeping over his lost cat, when another cat enters through the cat entrance. The Uchidas promptly adopt that cat, and Uchida's depression gets much better afterwards.
  • Seasonal Baggage: It's summer when the Uchidas are forced to move into the tiny gardener's shack after their house burns down. We then see a shot of the Uchidas in their shack as leaves are falling. Then we see a shot of them in the shack, with snow everywhere. Then we see a shot of them in the shack, with the snow gone and the trees blooming. After this Time-Passes Montage, Uchida's old students decide to build him a house.
  • Slice of Life: Nothing really happens in the movie. There is no story, and there's no conflict. The most eventful sequence is the hunt for the professor's lost cat. It's really a slice of the life of an old professor and how his students love him.
  • Time Skip: 15 years or so until Uchida's last Not Yet Fest at age 77.
  • Title Drop: Said many times as Uchida's defiance of death.
  • Tropey, Come Home: A long sequence in the second half of the movie involves the disappearance of Uchida's pet cat, Alley. Because they love him, Uchida's students rally in support, hunting around the neighborhood, handing out fliers, putting ads in the newspaper, doing everything possible to find Uchida's beloved cat. They never do, but eventually a new cat comes to the Uchida home and is adopted.
  • Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking...: Subverted. At the first Not Yet Fest, one student gets up to speak. He says that he's not good at giving public speeches—so he will recite every single station on a particular commuter railway line. And he does, reciting every last station on the line, continuing long after everyone has stopped listening, continuing while other students give their tribute speeches, continuing while the party morphs into a drunken conga line, and still continuing until the party is over and all the other guests have gone.