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Madadayo: Laugh Track

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    Vili Maunula

    Have you ever had the feeling while watching Madadayo that Kurosawa was using something like a variation of a live laugh track to punctuate most of Uchida’s jokes? While the laughter in the movie is always “natural”, i.e. there is always someone actually doing the laughter (as opposed to actual canned laughter, which is supposed to be the audience’s), the manner in which Kurosawa uses that laughter does at times give at least me a feeling of artificiality.

    Or theatricality. As if the laughing students were the chorus, responding to Uchida’s main character. Which brings us back to something that we have noted before: I have mentioned about the very stage-like lighting that the films uses, while Ugetsu mentioned the supposedly spontaneous party sequences that come across as very rehearsed indeed. We both wondered whether Madadayo was intended to be seen as existing within a more theatrical reality than what is usual for Kurosawa.

    Also, note that the genre with which a laugh track is almost solely associated is comedy. Should (or could) Madadayo then be approached as one?

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