Listen to the Voices of the Sea

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Listen to the Voices of the Sea
Listen to the Voices of the Sea - 1950 movieposter.jpg
Theatrical poster for Listen to the Voices of the Sea (1950)
Directed by Hideo Sekigawa [1] [2]
Written byKazuo Funahashi
Produced byMitsuo Makino
CinematographyShinkichi Otsuka
Edited byShintaro Miyamoto
Music by Akira Ifukube
Toyoko Eiga
Distributed by Toei Company
Release date
  • June 15, 1950 (1950-06-15)
Running time
109 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Japanese soldiers in screenshot of Listen to the Voices of the Sea. Listen to the Voices of the Sea 2.png
Japanese soldiers in screenshot of Listen to the Voices of the Sea.

Listen to the Voices of the Sea (Japanese : 日本戦歿学生の手記 きけ、わだつみの声, romanized: Nippon senbotsu gakusei no shuki: Kike wadatsumi no koe, lit. 'Notes from fallen Japanese Student Soldiers: Listen to the Voices from the Sea') is a 1950 Japanese anti-war film directed by Hideo Sekigawa. It is based on the 1949 best-selling book Listen to the Voices from the Sea (Kike wadatsumi no koe), a collection of letters by Japanese student soldiers killed in World War II. The first post-war Japanese film to feature battle scenes, it was also a big success with domestic cinema audiences. [3] [4]



Burma during the last weeks of World War II: The remnants of a Japanese infantry unit are joined by Private Oki, whose own unit has been destroyed. Oki turns out to be the former University professor of some of the soldiers, many of which are drafted students. He is bullied by the sadistic adjutant of the commanding Lieutenant Kishino, himself an uneducated man who dislikes students and academics. Close to the edge of starvation, a group of soldiers, led by squad leader Aoji, steal and slaughter the Lieutenant's horse. Upon discovery, Aoji is beaten, while the adjutant uses the incident as a pretence to execute Private Kawanishi who overtly opposes the war. When the soldiers are sent out to battle against an outnumbering enemy, the wounded are left behind to commit suicide with hand grenades. The rest of the unit is killed in artillery fire, only Kishino and his adjutant, as the film suggests, manage to escape. The last scene shows the soldiers' souls emerging from their scattered corpses.


Hajime Izu Aoji
Yasumi Hara Kishino
Akitake Konō Kawanishi
Kinzō Shin Oki
Haruko Sugimura Akiyama's mother
Yuriko Hanabusa Kawanishi's mother
Yōichi Numata Maki
Sōji Kamishiro Shibayama
Kōichi Hayashi Noomura
Kyōsuke Tsuki Negishi
Toshio Takahara combat medic
Kazuo Tokita Matori
Tokue Hanazawa Tsuruta
Yoshio Ōmori Omachi
Shōzō Inagaki Mita
Tamotsu Kawasaki Akiyama
Kiichi Sugi Kimura
Asao Sano Yamada
Kazuo Masabuchi Iijima
Shōichi Onjō Chiba
Tadashi Suganuma
Jirō Kozaki
Kieko Sawamura Yano
Kōichi Fujima

Literary background

In the flashback sequence showing the last university lecture because of the students' mobilisation, Professor Oki cites extensively from French philosopher and humanist Montaigne's 1580 essay Comme l’ame descharge ses passions sur des objects faux, quand les vrais luy défaillent (How the soul discharges its passions on false objects, when the true ones fail it), describing it as a contemplation on death in times marked by wars. He closes with a quote from Montaigne's essay Que philosopher c'est apprendre à mourir (That to philosophise is to learn to die).

Home media

Listen to the Voices of the Sea was released on DVD in Japan in 2005 [5] and in the Czech Republic in 2009.

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  1. 日本戦歿学生の手記 きけ、わだつみの声 (in Japanese). Japanese Movie Database . Retrieved 2009-05-06.
  2. Kike wadatsumi no koe: Nippon senbotsu gakusei shuki at IMDb
  3. Seaton, Philip A. (2007). Japan's Contested War Memories: The 'Memory Rifts' in Historical Consciousness of World War II. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN   978-0-415-39915-9.
  4. Anderson, Joseph L.; Richie, Donald (1959). The Japanese Film – Art & Industry. Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Company.
  5. "Japanese DVD of Listen to the Voices of the Sea". CDJapan (in Japanese). Retrieved 2020-12-21.