- Currently (2018) ranked #73 on TSPDT. I’m not there but this is my second viewing (first in 10 years) and a revelation—it’s the first film of Ozu’s I think you could argue is a masterpiece
- I don’t know enough about Haiku and Buddism to make the connections but there are many (much smarter) men and women who have done studies and made connections that could add layers
- This film is known as the beginning of his sublime “late period” but that’s really a distinction marked by content. He rejects “melodrama”(A Hen in the Wind with the “I had to become a prostitute to pay for my son’s hospital bill” setup) and lets the camera settle in for the long-take, low height contemplative mood/tone. However, there are elements of this subject/content/narrative before There Was a Father and A Hen in the Wind is extremely stylish with the mise-en-scene and pillow shots- here he’s really combining the two—and doing the best job of it to date.
- Bitter sadness has rarely been put forth better on screen
- I think this is 35mm but it’s said that he uses 50mm lens which is closest to the human eye
- First film of his to star and feature Setsuko Hara—known as the “external virgin”- and she’s very good- as long-time collaborator with Ozu, Ryu
- A family drama- devoid of drama like I said
- Paced slower than normal life—many “pillow shots” (landscapes, clotheslines, trains) to rest from the action
- Famous for the vase shot and the finale with the apple peeling— the vase back and forth with Hara’s face is a great piece of editing and the apple peeling is tragically sad and great acting from Ryu—I couldn’t find a good still from it but the set up for Ryu’s room as Ozu starts that scene is breathtakingly beautiful mise-en-scene— the film’s best
- Camera certainly lingers an extra beat- lyrical and then to the cutaways
- Love the bingo game for Ozu aficionados- Ryu, Time-Life building, Gary Cooper joke/reference, trains, laundry, family and generational relationship, obligations and duty
- Magnificent opening montage of empty train station
- Hara was the perfect Ozu actress because she has that great frozen smile
- I think critics should forget the lazy Oedipal reading of the film
- Very train crazy in the pillow shots
- Again, there’s a distinction here with what Ozu is doing with cutaways and what a normal establishing shot is
- Another mise-en-scene highlight is the framing of the two bikes on the beach and then the hill
- Laundry is constantly hanging in the background of houses like a crowded Von Sternberg mise-en-scene
- Vertical and horizontal lines of the house and halls creates framing devices—this with the pillow shot cutaway editing is what makes Ozu a master
- Love Ryu’s grunts and vocalizations- such wisdom from his character to his daughter “happiness lies in the forging and effort”
- Medication on obligation- life with father
- It’s complex with the relationship—many critics have noted that only the sister walks away happy but she is doing the best she can and Hara’s character said she couldn’t marry because she feels obligated to her father. There’s no easy answer
- Stunning interiors abound
- The pillow shots really ramp up in the last 20 minutes as the film gets more contemplative and push this from a must-see film to a masterpiece for me (and of course that ending is fantastic—splendid mise-en-scene, the apple falls, pillow shot cutaway to waves)— wonderful
Brilliant masterpiece with one of the greatest movie endings of all time. I’m glad you rightfully consider Ozu and Late Spring to be excellent. You were underrating both Ozu and (in my opinion) his 2nd best movie (Late Spring). In my opinion, there are only a few movies that are better than Late Spring and even fewer directors better than the legendary Yasujiro Ozu
“Currently (2018) ranked #73 on TSPDT. I’m not there but this is my second viewing (first in 10 years) and a revelation”
What other movies were revelations for you. Movies you didn’t really enjoy upon 1st or 2nd viewing but improved a lot upon repeat viewings.
Also, was there any movie that you thought REALLY high of upon the first few (1-3) watches and then upon repeat viewings, you didn’t enjoy it as much and you dropped its ranking a lot. any movies like that?
Also, I commonly experience “see- saw” movies. Movies I think are bad on 1st viewing only to realise that they are actually incredible upon 2nd viewing. On 3rd viewing, they fall flat. But sometimes on 4th viewing I see some new potential. Has something similar happened to you?
@Oz Thanks for the comment. That’s a tough question. Too many to keep track of. The entire Ozu study i did in 2018 was a big one. The Master took me three viewings. There have been many others. Welles’ The Trial has a really slow start and I tuned it out the first time and then when I revisited it blew me away. My recent Resnais study has turned my head on a few films too. I wasn’t ready for Roy Andersson’s Songs From the Second Floor when I saw it in the early 2000’s…. ditto for Punch Drunk Love….. I could go on….
…the films that have moved the other way don’t stick out as much in my memory… Lady Bird faded on me when I saw it the second time a little– still great though. Duck Soup has been falling on my all-time list for years. The Maltese Falcon. Great films- just so many that are more cinematically ambitious have passed it.
I don’t have as many I go back and forth on or see-saw movies as you say… maybe not always I guess—but they usually trend one way or the other and I’ve found repeat viewings are the best way to reveal the true worth. The great films hold up to close inspection
How about you?
Agree with everything you said. I too have many movie that improved upon rewatch like 2001, see sawd like one flew over the cuckoos nest and I thought less of Aguirre I guess. Most times it improves tho.
I “tuned”out of Chinatown 20 mins in (and closed it) same with godfather cause I was tired. Both are probably in my top 7 or so now….
Welles the Trial is a slow burn movie like se7en.
Everything must lead to a climax – Kazan.
Slowly it builds into a stunning climax.
@Oz— great stuff here. Thanks for sharing.
@RujK – Thank you for the catch and correction here!