Overview: On March 11, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake struck off the coast of Japan, leaving 15,372 people confirmed dead. Interestingly enough the natural disaster was timed for the springtime emergence of the cherry blossoms that awake the landscape with pink floral explosions. This documentary is called a visual poem and a testimony to the Japanese people. It also was an Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Short.
Expectations: Besides one press release about this documentary I stayed away from any previews or reviews of this piece. My expectations before watching then are simple. I am prepared to look upon Japan during and after the tsunami hit. And then I am going to observe the beauty of the cherry blossoms as they bloom. Exactly how these natural entities relate isn’t clear and that it what is drawing me to this film.
Gut Reaction: What a powerful beginning to this piece. Even though the press release stated how this documentary opens you are not prepared for the hilltop view of a town’s total destruction. It is a gripping glimpse of buildings, cars and people swept away by the raging waters. This quick 41-minute film shows just one demolished region and the stories of its survivors. But, the doc is not all about the natural disaster.
Just how has the Japanese endured the tsunami, endured the dropping of Fat Man & Little Boy, and hell, even Godzilla? It seems, believe it or not, they have endured because of the cherry blossom. Each spring the citizens await the opening of these blossoms from a variety of species of cherry tree. They even chronicle their lives based upon the vernal awakening of these trees. Their emergence symbolizes for them the awakening of nature’s cycle, of rebirth, renewal, hope and resilience. It seems the floral growth revives the people within its shadow to go onward. They seem to be doing just that and they seem to have been empowered to do so for thousands of years as sayings and haiku mention upon the film’s ending. The documentary may start with the feeling that all is lost but upon its conclusion the feeling has changed to a positive declaration of hope.
In Conclusion: “Tsunami” and “Cherry Blossoms”, a unique coupling of words. It is now clear to me what relevance they have to each other. It is also quite obvious what that natural disaster and that particular plant species mean to the people of Japan. Oh, if we all could have the Japanese perspective of life and their philosophy on how to deal with it we all would be better off.
I intentionally left this post a little vague in the hopes that fans of HBO and documentaries alike will explore this short film for themselves and hopefully, take relish in the simple lesson it tells. It is the life lesson of the TSUNAMI AND THE CHERRY BLOSSOM. Make sure you stop back to HBOWatch and leave your comments.