The BitLanders Film Series to Support Women Empowerment: SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN

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The BitLanders Film Series to Support Women Empowerment: SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN 

Photo credit:   Edition by Amber255 via

Have you heard about The BitLanders Film Series" to Support Women Empowerment? Check it out. You still have time to write some blogs of given list. The drama SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN is one of the four movies we can choose. Unfortunately, it was not shown at our cinemas, but I watched it online just yesterday evening. The director of the movie is Maggie Greenwald (Ballad on the Little Jo, Comfort and Joy). It was created in Monterey Media studio.

Now, I love romance – it’s always a part of my stories – but it’s never the sole aspect to the character or what completes their arc. Anyway, maybe some of it is also being older, but I’ve become increasingly radicalized over the past five years. Instead of becoming bitter as a woman filmmaker, I’ve become very political. - Maggie Greenwald.


The movie was filmed by the novel of Augusta Trobaugh with the same title as the movie - SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN - a drama about forbidden love premiered at Sundance Film Festival. There are not many stories told quietly without too many sensations or a dramatic turn around scary things that could happen to people when the war interfered their lives. The drama SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN - exactly such slow-pace but forcing to think story.

They did not have to meet, but the fate has its own wishes. Silent Sophie and stranger Grover. They were united by the love of painting and nature. Their passion has changed a small city.

The film tells the story of the uneasy love of two people of different origins. The two lovers, belonging to different races, seek to overcome the difficulties arising from the military conflict. Perhaps if their meeting took place somewhere else and at another time, they could become a happy couple and live in a quiet and cozy family nest without any struggles and fighting with others.

SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN - Official Trailer   -  Video credit: Maggie Greenwald via

The Short Story Of The Movie

The film takes us to the small fishing village in 1941. Anne (Margo Martindale) and Sophie (Julianne Nicholson) live here - two unmarried women. They knit warm things for their fellow compatriots who restrain the aggression of Hitler's Germany in Europe. In addition, women love to spend time on their hobbies. So, Anne is an amateur journalist: she writes various articles in a local newspaper. And her friend Sophie loves to draw. Especially the young artist is inspired by the picturesque landscapes of local nature.

One day locals find near the town a stranger of the Eastern appearance, a Japanese Grover Ohta (Takashi Yamaguchi), an American citizen from California who was strongly beaten. The guy does not understand at all what happened to him. The stranger did not have any documents with him. The locals confirmed that he had left the New York bus.

Local policemen find a shelter for a young person for a few days in the house of Anne, who immediately agrees to help a stranger who has fallen into trouble. After getting better, he begins working as a gardener in Anne's garden. And soon Grover gets acquainted with Sophie, to which he begins to feel tender feelings. Gradually, real feelings, full of light and goodness arose between the guy and Sophie. The heroes are young and are not burdened by commitments. It seems that on their way there is no barrier to their happiness, but soon the heroes faced with a sharp hostility of others.


Drama SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN  - Photo credit:

Mr. Grover Ohta is a very educated person. But there is one problem: even if he was officially recognized as an American of the first generation, he is nevertheless a Japanese.

Precisely at this time, Japanese aviation is committing an attack on Pearl Harbor. Anti-Japanese feelings arise in the city.  Overnight locals start looking with a huge suspicion to Grover, who is very similar to people of the Rising Sun country. The inhabitants of the town are clearly not delighted with his arrival and are suspicious of a man with yellowish skin color. The local women, led by Ruth Jeffers, condemn the love of a white girl and man with colored skin. For the locals, he is now an enemy. Is belonging to a different race in the twentieth century could still be the cause of persecution?

Ohta is beaten by American soldiers and is forced to hide in a shelter that Anne has organized for him. She then develops a rescue plan for her gardener. Will Grover Ohta be saved? Can Sophie save her love?

Want to know how the movie ends? Watch it!!!

While reading movie SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN review, check the QUERLO CHAT: "Do you support women's empowerment?"

The Content of The Movie

The plot of the movie unfolds in a small city on the background of historical events.

1941 forces the community to reconsider its civil stance, its attitude toward its closest neighbors, to deepen into geopolitics, where global change takes place. The cause of the growing tension is the World War. The Nazis embody the idea of enslavement of the world, and even a fishing settlement in the American outback shows an active stance on the madness that has embraced the planet.

In the midst of the provincial landscapes, started the adventure SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN, filled with romance, but at the same time tragic.

An ordinary woman shows charity, seeing a beaten Japanese man. Dislike of aggression mixes with sympathy for an alien, giving birth to love. Mr. Grover Ohta is surely the soul mate of the yound woman. He shows mutual interest and fills the daily lives of his savior with talks about art, the beauty of nature. A sincere feeling is born between the representatives of the fighting nations. Historical transformations are inseparably intertwined with romance, forcing lovers to experience shocks.


Hollywood movie SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN  -  Photo credit:

The calm flow of days was disturbed by news of the raid of Japanese troops into the infamous Pearl Harbor base. Relationships without the taste of politics before, immediately become the cause of the blaming glances of neighbors and persecution.

The storyline is interesting. Love stories look better at contrast when lovers are separated by the serious barriers that they have to overcome. Any generic vendetta according to the scheme of the Montague against Capulet does not work today - something sharper, perhaps even shocking, is needed. 

The creators of the drama SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN did not dare to tell us the easy story of successful love.  When the novel Sophie and Ohta only started, the inhabitants of the town do not understand how to behave. They guessed who he is by nationality. After Pearl Harbor, the newspapers mentioned about Japanese having narrow eyes, yellow skin, in short, how the persons of Asian nationality should be distinguished. In general, this has begun! Now, the love affair of Sophie Willis and Japanese Grover Ohta in the eyes of local Americans looked outrageous.


Hollywood movie SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN - Photo credit:

And still, the story turned out quite nice. Yes, the plot is not very dynamic. But this is the middle of the last century, the lazy, slow, unhurried American South. The style of the time, the local colors are showed by the director very well. It looks that SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN reminds the films of the golden age of Hollywood. 

The couple in love played nicely, Sophie and Ohta immediately attract the viewers' eyes. From the beginning of the film, I wanted to wish them a happy end.

It's funny, but after watching the film, some parallels came to the mind about which the picture creations may have not thought. At about the same time, in Europe, the Nazis hunted for the Jews, and some kind men, at risk for the lives, these unfortunate people hid on their cellars and attics. I do not know why this parallel came to my mind, but it looked like racists hunted an American citizen for being a member of the wrong race. Thank God, the world is full of good people. And the poor man, who was not lucky with skin color and narrow eyes, is hiding from an angry public and persistent law enforcement


The scene from the Hollywood movie SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN - Photo credit:

The guy unsuccessfully tries to prove to the public that he is a US citizen. The young lovers are being chased, thrown by stones, people painted angry notes on their home. Sophie realizes that her tender feelings for Grover can lead to a real tragedy, but the love of these two turns out to be stronger than the circumstances.

The authors of the picture are too frankly trying to convey to the audience the main idea of the film - say no to racism. The flashbacks devoted to Sophia's childhood are a bit irritating. She was friends with a black girl who was being persecuted by a politically incorrect mother. It seems that the little girl was even slightly beaten. And then there was no justice on such parents!  Although we all need occasionally reminded of such things, it's probably worth it. 


Margo Martindale andDiane Ladd - Photo credit:

What impressed me personally was the fact that the director of the movie did not limit creation on the love story only but clearly shower the complicated time when everything happened. Yes, it seems quite amazing, but in the case of romances many interesting things sometimes fall out from the story. Salty Creek is a small town, and its inhabitants behave just like the inhabitants of small towns. They are persons who are interested in neighbors, often looks at their lives too much, asks why someone was not in the church, talks (sometimes too much), but mainly they try to know everything about everyone and care for the inhabitants' morality.

An eloquent, and both captivating and terrifying story playing out on the eve of the US entry into WW II, the film connects the Jim Crow South, and racism against Japanese Americans. And women bonding together in crisis for better - and often much worse. - Prairie Miller, WBAI Radio


First of all, Salty Creek is a community with a deeply rooted sense of community and Americanness.  That is why after Pearl Harbor everyone is angry, nervous, suspicious, and their gazes more and more often wander towards the "Chinese gardener of Mrs. Anne," a man who never did any of them the slightest harm, but ... he can be a spy. Director managed to show this slowly growing paranoia with paranoid fearfulness, as well as Anne's sound-minded efforts to protect Ohta from possible persecution. 

While reading movie SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN review, check the QUERLO CHAT:  "What kind of movies do you like?"

The Technical Side of The Movie

Visually the movie looks well enough. I would say it is a perfect work of cinematographer Wolfgang Held who showed to us a separation of different worlds. He perfectly enchanted details in some moments where the script itself struggled to make it more attractive.

Romantic scene of the drama SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN  -  Video credit: Deadline Editors  via

It is a low-budget movie, so you will not see any technical miracles there. It is a bit dull gray world in an epoch of second world war. I waited to see how the creators will create costumes and surrounding of this time. Too much gray color, too much darkness, but I think it fits this epoch. 

The soundtrack was very diverse. We even heard the accords of Mozart's piano concert. But again, the specific time requires specific music. 

In short, technically, the movie was done well. On the other hand, I do not expect very much from a low-budget movie


The scene from the drama SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN -  Photo credit: 

 The Collective Work of The actors

There are two main characters in the movie - American girl Sophie and Oto, Japanese American who accidentally found himself in the Salty Creek. I most liked the performance of Margo Martindale and Diane Ladd - very memorable personages.  

Julianne Nicholson

Julianne Nicholson, well known from such movies as August: Osage County and Black Mass, this time embodied Sophy, the main protagonist of the movie. She was raised by her mother and two aunts who came to help after the early death of Sophie's father. Our heroine's mother had the very strict look at the world. She thought that romance and love did not make sense. At the same time, however, she raised Sophie as a real lady, always praying, not offending anyone, and taking care of everything around her.

I could not say that the performance of this role was breathtaking or perfect. I missed some chemistry between main personages. 


Julianne Nicholson  -  Photo credit:

 Takashi Yamaguchi 

Takashi Yamaguchi is known to us from the film Letters from Iwo Jima. In the SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN, he played Japanese Ohta. He is the son of Japanese immigrants, a gentle but slightly naive man born in America. And, knowing the unbelievable history of Georgia and how its citizens treated black people and still treat black citizens, I think, he had something to fear.

Takashi Yamaguchi performance was also not very memorable. Sometimes it looked that second-rate actors roles were embodied greater and were more convincing. 


Takashi Yamaguchi  -  Photo credit:

In addition to them, there is the winner of three Emmy awards - Margo Martindale, three times nominated for Oscar Diane Ladd, and Lorraine Toussaint

On The Final Note

The war took the lives of hundreds of American citizens and caused a wave of anger and hatred among ordinary civilians. Sophie and her "rising sun" turned out to be at the very center of universal hatred and scorn, forced to pay for the sins they did not commit.

SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN is the movie with a focus on the superstitions of nationalism and racial groups. It also shows the big solidarity of women. A beautifully depicted image deliberately speaks of the search for your identity and the struggle for the ideals.

This is not a story about war, but about its impact on people. Especially about the impact on Americans by the attack on Pearl Harbor, which, however, has the greatest influence on the movie storyline.


 SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN team at Sundance Film Festival -  Photo credit:

In general, the inclusion of the entire thread of racial persecution in this movie is a great decision, because it pretends to be a normal element of life in the southern states, but at the same time shows that this is a problem and many lives have been damaged this way.

My rating: 7.0/10
Critics average: 57/100
Rotten Tomatoes: 60% ( of 100)
IMDb: 6.5/10

Have fun watching!!!


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You are very welcome to join Bitlanders and share your valuable knowledge and opinion.


You can check my other blogs with movie review: 

1.. The BitLanders Film Series to Support Women Empowerment: RED SPARROW

2.. The BitLanders Film Series to Support Women Empowerment: FROZEN

3. The BitLanders Film Series to Support Women Empowerment: STRANGE WEATHER

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