Wednesday 12 March 2014

Farewell to the Summer Light [1968]

Farewell to the Summer Light, the final entrant and the only one shot in colour in Yoshida’s so-called 6-film “anti-melodrama series”, was a formally challenging but aesthetically pleasing take on romance. All the films belonging to the series comprised of complex and layered relationships brewing between the male lead and his female counterpart, with either of the two obsessively chasing (physically or otherwise) the other, and this was no different; however, tonally this was the lightest of the lot, and psychologically perhaps the least audacious. The way it evoked questions of memory and ephemerality of relationships, with an underlying political consciousness, it reminded me of Resnais, particularly Hiroshima Mon Amour; further, its rambling narrative style, with the protagonists simply conversing nearly all through its length, seemed the prototype for Linklater’s ‘Before Series’, even if, temporally, the latter was compressed into a much shorter timespan. A Japanese scholar (Tadashi Yokouchi) who’s in Europe to locate a church that might provide insights to his research on Japanese civilization, gets acquainted to and falls madly in love with a beautiful and enigmatic Japanese expat (Mariko Okada) who’s been staying in Europe for nearly a decade and is married to an American man. They meet, talk and part multiple times over, over an unspecified timespan, across various locales – both urban and countryside – across the continent. Their growing relationship, sharing of personal thoughts and seemingly digressive philosophizing were counterpointed with their emotional dilemmas, loneliness and past baggage, particular her harrowing memories as a child in Nagasaki. Dazzling photography by a restless camera and an affecting tune accompanied this strangely fascinating journey of theirs.

Director: Yoshishige Yoshida
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Romance
Language: Japanese/English
Country: Japan


Sam Juliano said...

Excllent review of a complex homage to Resnais, made even more meamingful now after Resnais' passing last week. It is beautifully photographed in widescreen, and it's absolutely one of my favorite Yoshida films of all.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. Yeah, a gorgeously photographed, haunting, emotionally affecting & excellently constructed film this was. Another memorable member in Yoshida's vaunted oeuvre.