This classic of Japanese non-fiction represents a tender research of the animate and inanimate on the edge of documentary and video poetry. An essay film about finite life and forces of nature describes the ancient sakura tree, the Japanese symbol of beauty and fragility, and people living next to it.
Sumiko Haneda cherished the idea of this late 1970s film for many years. It lasts less than an hour but focuses on different subjects and reviews over one thousand years of the history of this legendary Japanese sakura tree. Trees are animate in Japanese culture, and Sumiko treats the object of her research as the main hero and an independent creature, while social life, natural landscape, poetry, and intimate impressions are built around it. Everything is interconnected in this film—the voice over with the discourse on imminent changes, the languid pace of landscapes changing in different seasons, people caught by camera, thoughts on sorrowful loss and memories. It provides an authentic view of the lost traditional and leisurely Japan before the technological and consumer boom. People in this country truly feel their connection to earth they live in and poetry they have composed about their motherland for many centuries.
Screened as part of the J-Fest Program.
The Cherry Tree with Grey Blossoms
Director Sumiko Haneda
Japan, 1977, 43 min, 12+