Late Spring by Yasujiro Ozu

Happiness only comes through effort, or so the movie says.

The movie Late Spring (Banshun), has shots of toenail clippings or apple peels bridges or segues between the fulness of spring into doldrums of summer, when the flowers wilt from the heat and green foliage overpowers the flowers and it becomes a green world. These images make one think that the title is a time of the year, but that’s a minor thing — it is the between a father and daughter that the really action occurs.

The father is Shukichi Somiya (Chishu Ryu). The daughter, Noriko (Setsuko Hara) & the problem is Noriko is getting old — she is 27 and must marry but Ozu reminds us that each step in life shuts off another like a chrysalis about to be a butterfly. Once that stage is over, it  is done.

Noriko has just come out of a prisoner of war camp and wants to enjoy time home,, but the clock is ticking and time waits for no one and Shuichi Hattori (Jun Usami), who is interested is a dead end because during the years she was away he became affianced to another.

Throughout the cinematography by Yuharu Atsuta is tender with lots of low-angle and long shots (reminiscent of Michelangelo Antonioni or is it the other way around?) help imbue the scenes with the need for security and love because she is so jangled from the War.    But let’s be honest, there is always a war, not  always a physical way but also, at least recently a metaphysical one going, and that’s why so much of life has become nostalgia — too much is changing all the time, every day and like Noriko we would like the refuge of the past where things were slower and easier to handle.

For me, with my the last of my “Uncles” rather ill watching this again takes on a remorseful tinge — when he is gone, we are now the elders of the family.  I hope we can live up to those expectation, at least from ourselves.

——originally posted 1-19-2011

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