Lightning (1952) poster
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A bus conductress Komori Kiyoko, the youngest daughter in a family of squabbling half-siblings. All the children are products of different fathers, though they share the same mother: a tragically weak-willed woman named Osei. The familial tension only increases when the husband of one daughter dies and leaves behind a substantial insurance policy, so Kiyoko abandons them to their quarrels and makes a go of it on her own, though she finds she can't leave her mother behind so easily. Edit Translation

  • English
  • magyar / magyar nyelv
  • dansk
  • Norsk
  • Country: Japan
  • Type: Movie
  • Release Date: Oct 9, 1952
  • Duration: 1 hr. 27 min.
  • Score: N/A (scored by 0 users)
  • Ranked: #53684
  • Popularity: #99999
  • Content Rating: Not Yet Rated

Cast & Credits


Lightning (1952) photo
Lightning (1952) photo
Lightning (1952) photo
Lightning (1952) photo
Lightning (1952) photo
Lightning (1952) photo


The Butterfly
2 people found this review helpful
Sep 3, 2022
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 7.5
Rewatch Value 7.0
This review may contain spoilers

"You're surrounded by bums." "But they are relatives"

Lightning is the slice of life of a dysfunctional family dealing with death, infidelity, and becoming independent. Director Naruse weaves together the lives of four grown children, the mother, and various in-laws and a pesky suitor with these troubling topics knowing exactly when to bring a bit of levity to their dilemmas.

The quarreling family's mother had the four children by four different fathers and each child has a very different personality. Kiyoko is a 23-year-old bus tour guide still living at home and her family wants to marry her off to a seemingly wealthy by comparison 35-year-old baker. Her brother is a ne're do well who can't hold down a job and is usually out playing pachinko. Observing her older sisters' unhappy marriages Kiyoko is uninterested in their matchmaking efforts. Her sister Nui is tired of her unsuccessful husband and hooking up with the baker financially and personally. A death in the family causes problems when life insurance is involved and everyone wants a piece of it including a mistress! Everyone that is, except Kiyoko. As the situation escalates, the only child with a steady income and good head on her shoulders, moves out.

I really liked Kiyoko as she quietly watched the comings and goings of the rest of the family, privy to their secrets and foibles. Occasionally serious, but often with a knowing smile on her face as she stayed out of the fray as much as possible. When the time came, she didn't make a grand scene, she simply found another place to live and put into plan her goals. Eventually, Kiyoko and her mom had it out, and Kiyoko confronted her mother about her pain and having never felt happiness as they talked during a lightning storm.

Takamine Hideko was ethereal as Kiyoko. She moved seamlessly from problem to problem, completely believable as the youngest daughter who was unwilling to give up her dream of further schooling or settling for a boorish husband. Though beautiful and soft spoken she showed Kiyoko's backbone made of steel.

At one point Kiyoko tried to open her mom's eyes at the predicament the family had put her in. "You're surrounded by bums." To which her mom responded, "But they are relatives." Many a person knows this particular refrain when dealing with family. Most of us have had people in our families who are their own worst enemies and then can't figure out why bad things keep happening to them and think it's someone else's fault. Kiyoko's struggles mirror the struggles of many young people dealing with the push and pull of family as they discover who they are and where they want to be in the world. In these ideas, Naruse's work is timeless.

I loved the settings, the lively world of the suburbs of Tokyo came to life. Every scene was beautifully shot. The emotional piano music at the beginning and also played by one of the characters revealed the undercurrent of thunderous emotions. The film was exquisitely put together.

The film can be a challenge as Naruse drops us right into the middle of the story. The character introductions weren't always clear and it took me a while to sort everyone out. It is a true slice of life film as it begins and ends where the characters are and leaves resolutions up to the viewer. Many questions are left unresolved. We're not sure where Kiyoko's story goes though there are hints. Despite not tying things up with a pretty bow, I found this film charming and thoroughly enjoyed watching Kiyoko's journey to independence. Lightning was shockingly good, grounded in realism, and a bolt of pleasure. Sorry, I couldn't resist a few meteorological puns.


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  • Movie: Lightning
  • Country: Japan
  • Release Date: Oct 9, 1952
  • Duration: 1 hr. 27 min.
  • Content Rating: Not Yet Rated


  • Score: N/A (scored by 0 users)
  • Ranked: #53684
  • Popularity: #99999
  • Watchers: 43

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