Tuesday 1 January 2013

Late Spring [1949]

If the outlook of film noirs represents one end of the spectrum, then that in Ozu’s films quite easily represents the other. The first installment in his loosely bound ‘Noriko Trilogy’, the fame of Late Spring, a heart-rending, deeply humanistic and immensely affecting portrayal of father-daughter relationship, is second only to Tokyo Story in his cannon. Professor Shukichi (Chishu Ryu) is an ageing and soft-spoken widower who is taken care of by his affectionate daughter Noriko (Setsuko Hara). Adhering to societal customs he wants her to get married despite her adamant refusal to leave him. The basic plot concerned how he finally manages to do so. But, as can be expected, the storyline formed the springboard for Ozu to lovingly portray their incredibly layered relationship, as well as to touch base on the theme of clash of traditional values and modernity. Though inherently a chronicle of urban Japanese culture at a delicate moment in its political history, viz. post-World War II, in Ozu’s empathetic hands it managed to easily overcome geographical confines and attain a universal feel about it. The somber and meditative tone imbued it with deep emotional resonance, marvelously buoyed by the soft, lilting and elegiac score and the leisurely pacing that allowed exquisite development of the character dynamics. The glowingly beautiful Hara gave a sterling performance as the demure and fragile daughter, while Ryu too was very good as the stoic father – the chemistry shared by the two was truly unforgettable. The film managed to reinforce Ozu’s undiminished faith on the human race without ever appearing saccharine or overtly sentimental – and that easily remains its most endearing and memorable quality.

Director: Yasujiro Ozu
Genre: Drama/Family Drama/Social Drama
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan


Arion said...

This one looks quite promising. I've been reading your blog for a while and I really like it. You make some pretty good observations about Au revoir les enfants, which I've just reviewed here:


Shubhajit said...

Thanks Arion. I'll check out your review soon. Do keep visiting.

Sam Juliano said...

Hara and Ryu are shattering in one of the greatest humanist statements in all of the cinema. Yes I agree this is right behind TOKYO STORY, though I love the film just about as much. Yes the character dynamics build to a level that few films can ever achieve. Thanks for the poetic, passionate review Shubhajit!

Shubhajit said...

The pleasure is entirely mine, Sam. More so since I'm completely aware how deeply you're fond of Ozu's cinema. Indeed, such humanism has rarely been depicted on screen, and that too with such deftness. Thanks Sam.