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Picture Bride

37 customer reviews

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(Jun 01, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Highly acclaimed by critics everywhere, this memorable story of passionate love is set amid the breathtaking scenery of a tropical paradise. With only a picture in hand, a beautiful young woman leaves behind all she knows for the far-off islands of Hawaii -- and an arranged marriage with a man she has never met. Though she initially regrets her decision, in time her new life on an island sugar plantation is filled with unexpected discovery and joy. Featuring Youki Kudoh (MYSTERY TRAIN) and Tamlyn Tomita (THE JOY LUCK CLUB), PICTURE BRIDE was the winner of the Audience Award for Best Dramatic Film at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Yûki Kudô, Akira Takayama, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Tamlyn Tomita, Yôko Sugi
  • Directors: Kayo Hatta
  • Writers: Kayo Hatta, Diane Mei Lin Mark, Mari Hatta
  • Producers: Cellin Gluck, Dana Satler Hankins, Diane Mei Lin Mark, Eleanor R. Nakama
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English, Japanese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 1, 2004
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000DZTIX
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,186 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Picture Bride" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 6, 2005
Format: DVD
I had never heard of this film, but when I stumbled upon it in the video store, I found its premise fascinating. As the film explains, with the advent of photography, the Asian tradition of arranged marriages became modernized in the early twentieth century, allowing families and matchmakers to meet, using photographs of the prospective brides and bridegrooms in lieu of face-to-face meetings. This was especially convenient, when the parties sought to be matched lived in far-flung parts of the country or even different parts of the world. This film explores this phenomena within the context of the so-called "picture brides" of Hawai'i. It is estimated that between 1907 and 1924, approximately twenty thousand young Asian woman from Japan, Okinawa, and Korea, became "picture brides", leaving their native country and journeying to Hawai'i to become the wives of men that they had never met. This film is a composite of their stories and experiences.

The story begins in 1918 in Yokahama, where a beautiful, young, Japanese woman named Riyo Nakamura (Youki Kudoh) is left an orphan, having just buried her father. It seems that both her parents have died of a disease that stigmatizes Riyo in terms of her marriage prospects. Shortly after, Riyo's Aunt Sode (Yoko Sugi) visits a matchmaker. She then presents her niece with a photograph of a young, handsome man. She tells her niece that his name is Matsuji Kimura and that he is a sugar cane farmer in Hawai'i. Her aunt hopes that Hawai'i is far enough away so that Riyo's prospective husband will not know how her parents died. With Riyo's assent, the marriage is arranged.

When Riyo arrives in Hawai'i, dressed in western style clothing, she gets the shock of her life. It seems that she is not the only one with secrets.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 31, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Stunning cinematography and an engaging plot make this film a must-see, especially for Japanophiles and social historians. You experience the emotions of a Japanese "picture bride," who must find a way to live with an elderly stranger for a husband, in a place far from home. The circumstances which bring her to Hawaii are also a fascinating education in superstitions and prejudices existing at the turn of the century on both sides of the Pacific. Just beautiful.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By BrKaT818 on January 19, 2005
Format: DVD
It's ashamed that this little gem hasn't garnered a larger following. "Picture Bride" is a terrific film that poignantly and accurately hits at the heart of the Japanese immigration to Hawaii in the early 1900's. A young girl, Riyo, apprehensively leaves Japan for Hawaii in order to marry a man she only knows through an aged photograph. Once there, she has to come to grips with the harsh reality that the man she is to marry is much older and the life in front of her is that of manual labor in the sugar cane fields. But through this a life is forged and a new generation is started in the beautiful Hawaiian isles. Having been born and raised in Hawaii, I can't begin to express how on-the-mark this film is. This, in part, is the story of my grandparents and my family.

The Hawaiian backdrop is wonderfully photographed. The performances are authentic and outstanding. Particularly impressive was the performance of Tamlyn Tomita who I had mistaken for a local (Hawaiian born) girl. Her demeanor, speech syntax and use of local dialect were dead-on. Kudos to director Kayo Hatta for creating this masterful and beautifully told tribute to all of those women who made such a journey.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 17, 1998
Format: VHS Tape
After viewing the video, my 3rd time, I was struck by the difference of today's immigrants experience and those of the Japanese in the early 1920's. Viewing the video for an Asian American studies class, the vivid imagery of the movie along with the touching dialogue, "The Picture Bride," hit home what it really meant to be a picture bride. Marrying a man 20 years your senior, an idea that strikes most of us as digusting, but regardlessly, the movie captures the heart of the era of the Japanese Picture Brides.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Eyon on January 6, 2008
Format: DVD
This first-time effort by Hawaiian-born Kayo Hatta worked for me cuz it didn't have the depth that I'm sure she intended. It only skimmed the surface of the potential melodrama of the story and, so, avoided becoming soggy with emotion. What remained were glimpses of a lifestyle shockingly different than the paradise promised by planatation owners and bachelor laborers to "picture brides" across the sea.

Fortune smiled on Hatta when she was talked into casting Japanese actress Youki Kudoh. Youki's in almost every scene and she easily carried the film with her nuanced, adorable performance. Her offbeat cuteness and delicacy enhanced the fish-out-of-water quality of the movie.

Her famous countryman, Toshiro Mifune, only appeared briefly but vividly in his second-to-last film. Speaking of brief, you might recognize Jason Scott Lee in an uncredited appearance.

This is a nice film to look at. Very colorful -- which is odd for an American film. While it took advantage of the magnificent Hawaiian scenery, it was mostly shot in the deep-green, almost claustrophobic cane fields. A clever atmospheric choice.

I particularly liked the effort to present the language situation authentically rather than turn everything into American English. Probably more than half of the dialog is in Japanese (with subtitles). Most of the English is heavily accented pidgin (remember Hawaii Five-0?) with a wee bit of Scots English and American English. If you're alert, you'll notice a Filipino dialect.

Sadly, Kayo Hatto -- who conceived, produced, co-wrote (with her sister), and directed -- did only a few film shorts since. Then, in 2005, she drowned accidently at age 47. So this is her feature film legacy. It's not deep dramatically, but it's wide in texture. Aloha, Kayo. And mahalo.
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