Early Spring

Early Spring (1956) movie poster

(1956) dir. Yasujiro Ozu
viewed: 11/18/03 at Castro Theater, SF, CA

When I saw that the Castro Theater was running a week’s worth of Yasujiro Ozu double features, I felt compelled to go see as many as I could. In the end, all I could muster from my time was one evening, and then in the end, I could only sit through one 2 1/2 hour feature. A second one would have been fun, but my leisure time and endurance ain’t what it used to be.

I have only seen one Ozu film, Tokyo Story (1953), and then only on television. His films are not widely available on DVD, and so, this was a good opportunity to catch up on seeing some films from one of the big names in cinema.

Ozu’s films, for those of you who do not know, tended to be family dramas. In this case, the story was about a young couple who had lost a child who were in a malaise in their marriage; the husband, an office worker in Tokyo, has an affair. His films have a slowish pace and do not tend to be overly dramatic. There has been no violent conflict to highlight either of the two Ozu films that I have seen, so I don’t know how this plays out in others of his films.

His critical eye was on Japanese society and the family, which in post-war Japan has interesting parallels the the melodramas of Hollywood, to some extent. The melodramas of such directors as Minnelli and Sirk, though really are much more lurid and overdone compared to the quiet pacing and unique perspective of Ozu’s camera.

Early Spring is elegant and simple in its presentation, but surprisingly good and engaging (I only say surprising in that describing Ozu’s films, they either sound so “quiet” or contemplative that they don’t sound all that exciting to see.) The film was excellent and made me wish very much that I had the time and ability to have sat through several more.

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