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In pre-WWII Japan, a progressive schoolteacher (Hideko Takamine) tries to free her students from their country's militaristic values in Keisuke Kinoshita's beautifully moving melodrama, which remains one of the most beloved films of all time in Japan.
Leading Japanese film critics voted Twenty-Four Eyes the best film of 1954 over Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, and Susan Sontag always singled it out as one of the finest Japanese films. A sweeping antiwar classic, the film stars the formidable Hideko Takamine as Miss Oishi, a Westernized, progressive schoolteacher who arrives in a village on the inland sea in 1928 and tries to instill pacifist sentiments in the local children. (The twenty-four eyes of the title are those of seven girls and five boys, her first-grade pupils.) As first the Manchurian War and then the Pacific War loom, the boys dream of becoming soldiers, ready to be groomed as kamikazes for the imperial cause, while Miss Oishi is denounced as unpatriotic. By the end of the film — a class reunion for which you will require a packet or two of tissues — the result of the militarist ideology that has seized the students' hearts and minds is sadly evident. "Probably the most beloved of all classic Japanese films, among the Japanese" (Chris Fujiwara).