.:: S T O R Y ::.
"A four hour film from Japan, in sepia tone, with very little dialogue, I'm sure nobody cares. But it's the most beautiful film I?ve seen this century.
It's about the survivors of a violent bus hijacking and their traumas. The survivors are the bus driver Makoto (Koji Yakusho) and two school children (played by real-life brother and sister Masaru and Aoi Miyazaki). The first thirty minutes are about the hijacking, and while there's hardly any on-screen violence it's one of the most disturbing scenes I?ve ever seen. For example the opening five minutes are just serene shots of the passengers and the bus driving and then suddenly without a musical cue the film jumps to a shot of the bus standing in an empty parking lot with newspapers taped in front of all the windows and you immediately know what's going on.
The remaining three hours are about the three survivors. The children are left mute from the event, their mother leaves them and father kills himself. They are left alone in their big house with an insurance check. Makoto after having roamed the country for two years goes back to live with his parents in the same town where the children live, and eventually leaves home again to go and live with the children after a fellow day laborer tells him about their fate. The children are still mute, but together they are better off than alone, doing trivial things like cleaning the house and going grocery shopping. After a few weeks a cousin from the children arrives from Tokyo, on vacation from college, to look after them.
Then one day Makoto buys an old bus. The scene where the four of them are standing outside looking at the bus and then carefully get in one by one like curious animals is very touching. Makoto and the cousin convert the bus into a camper and then the four of them take a trip which lasts the remaining ninety minutes of the film."
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