by guest writer
Early Summer finds Yasujirô Ozu using his usual ‘recipe’, dealing with transitional struggles within the middle-class Japanese society. The ’50s are considered by many the directors’s prime, with the richest films of his entire career. This time a neglected family is on focus, that of the 28-year-old Noriko (Setsuko Hara). The feeling of lost time is present in each character, from Noriko’s friends to her brother and her bratty nephews. This primary theme of wishing for life to stay as it is, but knowing it can’t, shows the modern thinking capacity of an anti-conservative Japanese director. The ephemeral is by itself a symbol of necessary change both in tradition and history and it is beautifully suggested by a natural phenomenon, the wind.
Ozu’s movies are not meant to pass on judgement upon the Japanese society; instead they subtly and wisely depict the strengths and the weaknesses of a noble nation. You will be amazed to find in the director’s filmography many films with similar names, especially seasons. Although he remade some of his ’30s movies later in the ’50s, his craftsmanship and constant input in improving his works never fail to impress.
photos: stills from the film; production credits