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“Nobody Knows” by Hirokazu Kore-eda

Nobody Knows is a movie that is quite slow-moving and gradually builds over to an emotional end. The plot of the movie is set in Tokyo and is about a mother who shifts into a new flat with her four children that are from different fathers and ultimately deserts them to fend for themselves. The eldest child named Akira is a young boy aged twelve years and is left with an envelope containing some money along with the responsibility to take care of his siblings. The second child is Kyoko who is a very quiet girl and has a dream of playing the piano. The other two children are the younger ones named Shigeru, a rowdy child who is always shouting and scampering around the house, and Yuki, who is indeed one of the cutest children around. The film traces the phases that the children have to go through while living without their mother and reveals how the elder child Akira grows from a boy who displays qualities that dramatically prove his early maturity as a responsible guardian. The other kids obey him in keeping with the rules that their mother had set for them and live for the present moment while still maintaining their identity as kids.

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To keep the hope alive amongst his siblings for their mother’s return, Akira forges Christmas letters from her in promising to them her impending return. But soon their financial position begins to dwindle and the vigilant expectations and rules that have governed the lives of the children so far, begin to erode in the quest for survival. It is devastating to see the young children begging for food and bathing in the public parks. But the main strength of the film is not the portrayal of reality as much as how the small accomplishments and redemptive moments have been highlighted amidst the intense adversities. A beautiful symbolism is by way of the action of the children in collecting the seeds of the lovely flowers they observe amidst the cracks in the parking lot and taking them home to start a small garden of their own. The children and the plants do survive despite the neglect. The film has portrayed the children’s fascination for their projects irrespective of the fact that their world is falling apart. Instead of appealing to one’s sense of pity, the film has balanced the depressing story from the perspective of the child’s world where joy easily replaces despair within seconds.

The cinematography is unique in approximating the child’s viewpoint that sometimes borders on claustrophobia in the composition of close shots of the hair, hands, arms, dirty dishes, small toys, and crayons. The film artistically records the minute details of the children’s daily life in reminding one of the small worlds in which they have been brought up. Outside scenes rarely depict the sky since most of the external shooting pertains to urban life by way of telephone wirings, traffic, and signage. The film is seen to be relying on visual clues that elegantly convey a lot of emotion. Ultimately the fine balance maintained by the film prevents it from being listed as melodramatic notwithstanding its emotionally charged background. It does not pity nor make heroes out of the protagonists and only allows the strong will and gravity of their circumstances to permeate throughout the movie. It is also observed that in keeping with the developments in the industrialized world, Japan has witnessed child prostitution and violence amongst children which have reached extraordinary proportions. As a consequence children are increasingly being neglected and misused. Yet Nobody Knows has honored the childhood innocence even though it may have appeared to be slipping away.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 26). “Nobody Knows” by Hirokazu Kore-eda.

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"“Nobody Knows” by Hirokazu Kore-eda." StudyCorgi, 26 Nov. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "“Nobody Knows” by Hirokazu Kore-eda." November 26, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "“Nobody Knows” by Hirokazu Kore-eda." November 26, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "“Nobody Knows” by Hirokazu Kore-eda." November 26, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) '“Nobody Knows” by Hirokazu Kore-eda'. 26 November.

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