by guest writer
Late Spring opens our month dedicated to Japanese director Yasujirô Ozu. For those of you who are not familiar with his work, you have to know that Ozu’s main preoccupation throughout his almost 40-year career was the dissolution of family. The beauty of the director’s movies lies in their minimalist composition and, foremost, in the characters’ complexity, frequently dwelling with modern vs. tradition.
Late Spring is the first film of a trilogy, also including Early Summer (1951) and Tokyo Story (1953), that is centered on the character of Noriko (Setsuko Hara). The film focuses on middle-class domesticity, but looking beneath the surface, one will find harsh comments and references to the US-occupied Japan, such as a scene when Noriko, recently recovered from an illness she had suffered since the war, rides her bicycle through a landscape filled with Coca-Cola advertisments. As it usually happens in Ozu’s films, the final sequence is a contemplative one, sealing the essence of the message the director wants to transmit his audience. A wonderful movie, Late Spring presents Noriko as a conservative daughter of a professor (Chishû Ryû), trying to figure out her future, but not willing to give up the past easily.
photos: stills from the film; production credits