Late Spring (1949)

Late Spring (Banshun)Late_Spring
Directed by Yasujirô Ozu
Written by Kôgo Noda and Yasujirô Ozu from a novel by Kazuo Hirotsu
1949/Japan
Shôchiku Eiga

Repeat viewing/Criterion Collection DVD

 

Shukichi Somiya: Happiness isn’t something you wait around for.  It’s something you create yourself.

This is my very favorite Ozu film and that is really saying something.  Something about the combination of the music, the stately visuals, and the writing creates a kind of melancholy nostalgia in me for a place and time I have never seen.

Noriko Somiya (Setsuko Hara) is 27 years old and unmarried.  She is just now recovering her health after years of wartime malnutrition and forced labor.  She lives happily with her father Shukichi, a professor, doting on him and caring for his every need.  Her aunt has decided that it is high time for Noriko to marry and has the ideal candidate picked out (he “looks like Gary Cooper”).  The father agrees but Noriko resists.  Privately, she says she can’t imagine how he can take care of himself without her.

late spring 1

So the father resorts to acting as if he has it in mind to remarry himself. This really upsets Noriko, who previously told another widower she thought remarriage “indecent”.  But this push is what she needed and all’s well that ends well.  The father bears his new loneliness with a sad resignation and dignity.

late-spring

This very slight and seemingly happy story has me in tears throughout its final third every single time. There is a clear sense of the change going on in Japan in the subtext of the film.  Evidence of the occupation appears in the strangest corners of the scenery and Noriko’s best friend is a divorcee and thoroughly modern stenographer.  I guess change, even change for the better, is usually fraught with sadness and a letting go.   Most highly recommended.

Clip – Some fatherly advice

8 thoughts on “Late Spring (1949)

  1. Gawd, I love Ozu! Nothing happens for two and a half hours and you are mesmerized!

    My favorite is Good Morning.

    • Mesmerized is the word for it! I like Good Morning, too. I Was Born But … is a very similar story. Talk about hypnotized. It’s completely silent, no music even, and after 5 minutes I didn’t even notice. I was too busy chuckling at those boys.

      • I’ve seen I Was Born But … and , yeah, it’s great too!

        I’ve seen five or six of his films so I’m kind of a novice, but I always keep my eyes open for when his films are on TCM. I watched I Was Born But … on YouTube, which I seldom do, but I really wanted to see it!

  2. You liked this more than I did, but I’d probably pick it as my favorite “serious Ozu” film. He must have liked it, too, because he essentially remade it at least two other times.

    • I’m biased but I’d say I could watch him make the same plot 100 times. And I’m not even any good at explaining why.

      • I get what you mean about explaining why! I talked my mom into watching Wild Strawberries and Yojimbo, but when I tried to explain why I liked Good Morning, she wasn’t the least bit interested.

        (I also couldn’t talk her into watching The Baby, but she wants to see I Saw the Devil.)

          • My mom has been a committed film fan since she was a kid. She saw Sunset Boulevard when it was first released when she was nine years old! She loves the classics. (But she was making fun of Grand Hotel this week. Her loss!)

            But she likes some weird stuff. Among her favorite movies is Texas Chainsaw Massacre! And she loves Motel Hell!

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