Tree Without Leaves (1986)
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Tree Without Leaves 1986

Tree Without Leaves : Shohei Imamuras Black Rain (Kuroi Ame, 1989) was not the only solemn, black-and-white, rural drama to come out of Japan in the late 80s. Although Kaneto Shindos Tree without Leaves is also largely set in the environs of Hiroshima, the title is not an allusion to the mushroom cloud, but to a family without succession. The story is framed as a series of reminiscences by aging scriptwriter Haru (Kobayashi, no doubt a substitute for Shindo himself, who also wrote and produced the film), who has isolated himself somewhere in the woods of Nagano Prefecture to work on his first novel. As the last surviving member of his kin, he intends to chronicle the family he grew up in, and more specifically the role of his mother.

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