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Picture Bride

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Picture Bride

Picture Bride, rated pg-13, directed by Kayo Hatta is a film narrated in English with dialogue in Japanese, with English subtitles, and later in English.
An introduction in captions explains how photography transformed the way marriages were arranged between Japanese men and women in the homeland with those in Hawaii. No longer face-to face with families but through pictures, especially over long distances. From 1907-1924 20,000 marriages were arranged for immigrants to Hawaii.
The problem with long distance marriage arrangements is shown through the two main characters, Riyo and Matsuji, who realize that neither one is like their photo. Matsuji is too old, and Riyo appears to be too delicate for farm work. Riyo’s deception was her lack of marriageability due to the disgrace of her family.
The first 20-30 minutes would be useful to a US History class studying 19th century immigration. It could be used to answer a variety of cultural and historical questions. Why was only the Riyo dressed in western clothing, not the traditional kimono? Why was it a Christian wedding ceremony right off the boat? What is the difference in dress, manners, and speech between those from the city and those from the country and what prejudices are developed on both sides?
The film itself was a good visual representation of what life must have been like in the cane fields in Hawaii. It has moments of cultural humor such as when the Irish boss gives directions in proper English, but then the Portuguese boss had to rephrase in Pidgin English before the Japanese workers could understand. Although it is a nice story, realisticallyonly parts of it would be useful for historical perspective.