Visually, it’s the only film from Ozu on par with Tokyo Story
It’s another major accomplishment for Ozu’s muse Hara— for Ryu he doesn’t show up until the closing scene with the river fishing, crows, and crematorium. A gorgeous sequence—Ryu adds weight to it
The trademark light brown cloth opening credits- he’s always had them but only color (5 films in color including this one) do you see they’re brown
Love the night time neon light skyline establishing shot
A narrative meditation on marriage and remarriage—obligation to family and self-interest at odds—the young girl (getting mentored by Hara—always the most genuine character on screen) deciding between two suiters— the old man and patriarch (who is a widow) setting happiness with his former mistress—there’s hypocrisy in members of the family- they are pushing hara to marriage (she’s a widow) but keeping the old patriarch from it—it’s an all-encompassing story of one family
A stunning art-on-wall shot of a row of barrels
The multi-colored drinking glasses, orange pop, we even have that dresser again with the drawers all a loud different color
In the opening bar scene there is the pink dress on the waitress, the row of purple furniture, and the flashing neon light changing in the exterior- a striking mise-en-scene set up
Very brown heavy in the color scheme interiors- bamboo- exquisite to look at
A great stain glass window setting
So when patriarch- Ganjirô Nakamura has a heart attack—they go from the daughter on the phone (to ambulance) to a montage of empty rooms (one including a beautiful grandfather clock)- it’s a 5 shot montage from phone call to the stunner of a staging shot with the family all around his sick body—it’s a major highlight and then not long after we go to the blue lantern with natural light in the background- sublime
Towards the end with Ozu goes to the headstones as a pillow shots more and more—a highlight is the row of headstones in the foreground, then an elevated hill, and two women (one Hara) in parallel and dressed alike in the background essentially like they’re standing on the headstones. It’s another jaw-dropper
The film doesn’t have 10-15 gorgeous shots in 2 hours like some of his work (minor by comparison but stronger than almost anything else)- this is like Tokyo Story– it’s absolutely loaded with some of the best mise-en-scene work in cinema history—it’s a visual onslaught and if I could find them (and had room for them) there would be 50 pictures here on this page
The chimney cremation sequence at the end is equally breathtaking—revelatory that hits you like a punch in the face—cycle of life, the shot of the row of mourners, the Ryu as a fisherman sequence—poignant, crows on headstones
So i managed to get a copy of this, very impressive.
I remember how you mentioned that if you started counting the interesting shots in Tokyo Story you would lose count.
I tried this one, on the calculator add +1 for each interesting shot. In the end when i press “equal to” the result was 140 haha.
@Aldo!!! haha I LOVE this!
I also watched this one about a month ago and I really wanted to say a few things about it. It is an incredible showcase of Mise en scene. I have to agree that as far as blocking and symmetry goes, this is almost on par with Tokyo Story, only that the End of Summer also has the advantage of colour (its warm earthy tones are wonderful – after all, it is about the arrival of autumn). And not only colour, but neon lights as well. For all of Ozu’s “cleanness” in themes (he doesn’t deal with anything even remotely controversial, though he is of course a stylistic rule breaker and trailblazer as a director), he manages to capture a sense of 1960’s modernity well enough – there is smoke in the air that enhances the beauty of each frame (essentially a painting) and as I said the neon lights – very impressive. Ultimately, I think the scale, scope, writing and black and white contrast elevate Tokyo Story a bit, but I was very impressed here as well. Aside from all the visual observations, I also need to mention how great the rich ensemble of characters is. It is like a party here with nearly all of Ozu’s mainstays walking in and out of scenes all the time, and Setsuko Hara leading the pack with what is perhaps the closest thing to a leading role this film has (one could argue that the younger sister or the father are the leads, but Hara is as always the heart of the story). It is so impressive in how it blends genres. It is a wonderful comedy of manners. I even think that around the 65 minute mark there is a piece of flatulence humour, with the father regaining his senses and visiting the bathroom, and I honestly don’t know if I hope that I’m right or that I’m wrong – it would be really something new and exciting for an Ozu film though, wouldn’t it? So a comedy it is. It is also a very humane meditation on death, and by extension on life. Not in any deeply philosophical way, but by virtue of showing us the lives of ordinary people, flawed (I simply adore the mistress character and how she doesn’t know whether this is indeed her daughter’s father, but is simultaneously portrayed as a caring and good natured character – Ozu doesn’t go for black and white here). And by capturing the impact of loss on all these people, it makes a statement about what it all means more so than several other films, grappling more intellectually with the subject. The last scene is beautiful. And the ravens on the tombstone is a welcome, yet interestingly macabre choice. I quite liked this one, and I agree that it is a masterpiece. Though I wouldn’t place it over Marienbad, which pretty much jumped out of the screen, slapped me across the face, and I said “thank you” and let it sink in. The End of Summer is beautiful in a quieter way, yet still beautiful. It is my #2 for 1961, but a great one at that.
@Georg- this certainly makes me happy to see. Aldo raved about it in February as well. As I say above this film doesn’t have quite the reputation (based on the TSPDT consensus) others do so it makes me even more pleased to see us on the same page.
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I just caught this this morning and I think it’s a huge testament to the depth and quantity (and quality) of great shots that most of my highlights weren’t even shown or mentioned on the page, yet you still have it as a masterpiece.