Aru Sendō no Hanashi – The Story of a Boatman, a.k.a. They Say Nothing Stays the Same

Just about two years ago, I wrote a post about a special Internet screening of a new film called Aru Sendō no Hanashi (ある船頭の話), or A Boatman’s Story. Since then I have viewed the film and recently discovered that the film is now available for streaming as a purchase or rental from a couple services. If you don’t know anything about this film, you can read my last post on it here: Aru Sendō no Hanashi.

Note that the film title has been changed for western audiences to They Say Nothing Stays the Same. The english title may make more sense as to what the film is about. I went ahead and purchased it, as I had seen it before and I enjoyed the film, though it’s slow paced, confusing, and sad.

As the westernized title says, it really is about change, and a disappearing way of life. Or, perhaps more appropriately for the boatman, it’s obsolescence. A man and his boat who were once great assets to the local villagers, now objects of annoyance and even disdain, as they look forward to the completion of a new bridge that will make life easier for them.

As I mentioned, this it is a slow paced film, deliberately so. The scenery and the pacing give you a sense of the aging boatman’s lonely life. There are images and scenes that are very confusing, and after the first time I saw the film, I could say that I enjoyed the film, but I really didn’t know what to think about it, or understand what was really happening in it, particularly the truth about the appearance of a young girl that enters his life.

The ending was strange and sudden. But, as one critic wrote, it’s difficult to know what ending would have been more appropriate. It leaves much unexplained, or maybe the explanations have been given all along and it just takes some time for it to soak in.

The things that are most appropriate here on Wasen Modeler though, is how the boatman and his wasen are part of a way of life that most of the people are happy to dispose of and relegate to history. That is true today, and that is why the work of people like Douglas Brooks, and Japan’s own wasen enthusiasts, to preserve the knowledge and skills for future generations. It is partly what drives me to study and model them. And, already, there are too many subjects that I can only study through reconstructions, and subjects that I am having to reconstruct on my own.

But, all that aside, I hope you get a chance to see this film and decide for yourself. I personally viewed it through Amazon Prime Video. You can rent or buy it here. No, I don’t get anything if you click on this link or buy or rent the film.

Hope you check it out. Hope you like it. Let me know what you think. Ω

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