Thoughts on the Film

Some random thoughts and observations on the movie:

The film was based on a novel by Sakae Tsuboi.

The title:

Twenty-Four Eyes

The author uses the word, hitomi (瞳) which means pupil in Japanese not eye. Me (眼) is eye. Hitomi is a more poetic way to say eye, but the obvious pun must be considered.
Twenty-Four, four pronounced: yon , shi (四) in Japanese is an unlucky number in Japan. Notice the similarity with the word death: shi (死 ). Years ago in Japanese hospitals for example, there never used to be a 4th floor.
Considering the amount of death in the movie, I wonder if the 'four' in the title was noticeable to Japanese audiences.

In the Classroom
I am sure that the scene where Oishii says that the emperor is in the cupboard and not displayed in the classroom caused a few ripples in Japan in 1954. The emperor was considered a god and every classroom in the country had a picture of him at the front of the room to which everyone bowed before and after lessons. One of the students also asks, 'Is he hiding in there?'

The post war classroom near the end of the film has children's calligraphy posted in the wall to the left of the chalkboard. The writing says - Heiwa Nihon 平和 日本 peaceful Japan or Peace Japan. Although the 'Heiwa' peace part is in Katakana, not Kanji.

Children's attitudes
This part of the film grated me a little.
How could the children dig a pit and damage the teacher's leg without going unpunished? How could they get away with calling the teacher names without being taken to task for it? Especially the scene where the kids call the teacher a crybaby while she is praying at the graves of the war dead. Surely the kids would have been given a right royal bollocking for that one!

Just on a cultural note, the final party scene must have been at least a year after the death of Oishii's daughter. In Japan families refrain from any form of celebration for one year after the death of a family member.

Well, apart from the terrible Home Sweet Home and Auld Lang Syne music, a fantastic film.
For further viewing of the beautiful Seto Nai Kai region, I suggest Kaneto Shindo's superlative 'Naked Island'.


I came here wondering about hearing "Auld Ang Syne" myself and was relieved to find an explanation that makes the music completely valid for Japan, (or any other place on earth).

"Auld Ang Syne" is poem not a song (Robert Burns 1788). The name of the Japanese song/poem is "Glow of a Firefly" ("Hotaru no Hikari" 1877 - Wiki) and its lyrics have nothing to do with the Burns' poem.

I'm glad to be able to use this as an illustration of how music truly is an international language. The origin of the melody of "Auld Ang Syne" was (from what I've found), a Scottish sheep herder folk tune that also had nothing to do with the Burns poem originally. That fact that both the tune and poem came from Scotland explains our mutual first impression, and likely that of most western Europeans / North Americans, immediately connecting it to "Auld Ang Syne" (and, if like me, also hearing bagpipes in my head )

So here we have an old Scottish sheep herder's melody alone that pleased the ears of Japanese enough to incorporate it for their own song serving as proof that music usually does not respect boundaries of nationality, ethnicity, language, etc. The words get left behind but the music itself endures and spreads across the world.

(We really do not need to "teach the world to sing in perfect harmony" - the melody will do just fine on its own! ;)


So, ultimately, it is the song "Auld Ang Syne." LOL! ;-)

Another song in the film is a recgonizable children's song also used in the film "Cross of Iron" as a German Hitler Youth song. Must have been popular in both nations?

There is a certain amount of sentimentality I accept in older films, as it was an acceptible conveyer of emotion. Today it might seem unecessary.


Did anyone notice the hymn "What a friend we have in Jesus" used in the soundtrack?


You cleared up something I was confused about. Where it says Nihon Heiwa, I read it as Nihon e Iwa which made me wonder what is Iwa? lol

Obviously because heiwa was written in katakana it confused me too.