The review of Fukushima, a Japanese film that traces the salient phases of the disaster that involved the plant of the same name in March 2011, tonight on RAI4.
On March 11, 2011, Japan was hit by a devastating 9.1 magnitude earthquake, resulting in a tsunami that claimed thousands of lives and also hit the Fukushima nuclear power plant. It was immediately clear how the impact of the waves caused damage to the structure, bringing the reactors to automatic shutdown in an emergency situation.
As we tell you in the review of Fukushima, a failure of this type brings the cooling pumps to their limit, forcing the workers and employees of the plant to act personally – putting their lives and health at risk – to avoid a real catastrophe. In fact, the situation risks degenerating into the worst expectations and the entire Asian country is now under the threat of nuclear danger: it will be thanks to the perseverance and sacrifice of courageous individuals that the worst will be avoided.
Memories of a country
It’s about the first japanese movie realized on the tragedy that in the last decade shocked the whole world, causing thousands of victims and generating an almost unanimous feeling of closeness from every corner of the globe. Fukushima 50, in Italian deprived of the numerical suffix – with which a group of employees of the plant was indicated – attempts to investigate the matter in cinematic form without giving in to excessive rhetoric. The most respectful way to pay homage to those who sacrificed their lives and health to save the lives of many, with a typically Japanese aplomb that preferred to ignore an unnecessarily spectacular approach to focus on the strength of the characters, all part of a community that emerges more vivid than ever from multiple subplots, most of them barely hinted at.
Discovering contemporary Japanese cinema
All for one, one for all
If it is in fact true that there is a nucleus of main figures, the form is that of a choral tale capable of investigating all the various souls of a country deeply wounded by one of the most catastrophic events ever recorded in the history of humanity. This is why, in addition to the command headquarters where the operations are managed and the “highlight” areas where the effective decisive action takes place by the bravest, one breathes the uncertainty and fear of ordinary people, returning from a rapid mass evacuation and refugee in reception centers waiting for things to get better. Friends, relatives, children and lovers grappling with moments of anguish, unaware of the health of their loved ones – whether these are directly involved in the desperate mission at the plant or dispersed elsewhere – who act as a counterpart to a bewildered political class, looking for the best way to respond to something totally unexpected.
Matter of style
A few years ago the Korean film scene had its say on the subject with the blockbuster Pandora (2016), which precisely followed all the rules of public-proof entertainment. Well, Fukushima it is the exact opposite, dodging any triumphalism and emphatic impulse in favor of a more sober and reasoned captioning, perhaps less engaging from a purely emotional point of view but no less compelling in its precise narrative excavation. Most of the sequences take place indoors, in progressively more claustrophobic interiors depending on the situation in what soon becomes a frantic race against time, dominated by a silent tension but a firm grip on the viewer, which as far as I already know however, the outcome of the story has good reasons to remain in suspense. Also thanks to a cast heterogeneous and populated by faces almost known only to fans, with the exception of one of the star’s key roles Ken Watanabe.
The tragedy that hit and devastated Japan in March 2011, leaving the whole world in suspense, is at the center of a sober and reasoned film, which relies on a solid and lucid caption to tell what happened, in those hours crucial, in one of the symbolic places of the catastrophe. As we tell you in the Fukushima review, this native production avoids the show as an end in itself in favor of an acute construction of the many characters in the game, ready to sacrifice their lives for a greater cause. And in this restrained but heartfelt emotionality, against the background of a choral and heterogeneous construction, it finds its strengths to keep the attention high until the end credits.
Because we like it
- A sober and respectful staging, which excites without resorting to gratuitous sensationalism.
- Tension on good levels thanks to well-characterized characters.
- Some downtime might put off a certain type of audience.
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