Yae: Blind Samurai Woman
Samurai Girl, 2022
Akiko Izumitani and James “Doc” Mason
📷 : Used with permission, Akiko Izumitani
Movies and TV shows with a lot of dialog
Movies and TV shows about toughness and athletic competition
Being underestimated has its advantages. You can then blindside the person or people that are displaying their condescension towards you, by whipping out your knowledge of Durkheim’s structural-functionalist theory and Parsons’ take on it. Or suddenly plopping down at a piano and flawlessly playing Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” before seamlessly moving into Lizzo’s “About Damn Time.” Think about the scene from the 1997 movie, Good Will Hunting, when Matt Damon’s character embarrasses a student from Harvard by showing him he understood some classical theories better than the student did. Was that a good scene or what?
This is Yae: Blind Samurai Woman in a nutshell. The short film is about a young woman in 18th century rural Japan who has the power to heal. It comes at a cost however, in that she loses some degree of her eyesight or “light” whenever she uses her power. Starring Yuwi Kim (The Music Box, Desperation), Yae has already lost most of her light at the beginning of the film, when she hears her father, a samurai, fighting in the forest but arrives too late to use her powers to save him. She encounters his killer, Masanobu, who offers to lead her out of the forest to a nearby village so she will not be alone given that she is blind.
Too often, people with disabilities are treated as if they lack certain sensibilities because they are missing a limb, reliant on support devices, unable to hear, or vision-impaired. For this reason, some films centering disabilities are problematic because the disabilities take on a life of their own, making the individual who is disabled appear unable, such as in Children of a Lesser God, My Left Foot, and more recently, The Upside. But this is far from the truth. What is often lost in these depictions is the fact that human beings have five senses, and medical science suggests that the loss of one usually leads to enhancement of the other four. What is also lost is that despite having a disability – cognitive or physical, people with them still have hopes and dreams. They enjoy socializing, having fun, and challenging themselves as others do. As it turns out, Yae likes a challenge and Masanobu underestimates the wrong woman on this day.
Played by Masa Kanome (Bullet Train, Snake Eyes), Masanobu is boastful and proud of what he calls his killing in honor of his father. Despite Yae’s insistence that he remains quiet, he continues to talk as they embark on their journey out of the forest. A funny thing happens though, when we engage in conversation with people. We get to know them. We humanize them. And things become not quite as simple as they once seemed. Intrigued? If you have 20 minutes, you might want to give this one a try.