The End of Summer (1961)

The End of Summer
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
Written by Kogo Noda and Yasujiro Ozu
1961/Japan
Toho Company/Takarazaka Productions
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental

 

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” ― Abraham Lincoln

Near the end of his own life, Ozu makes a reflective film about what’s really important at the end of the day.

Widower Manbei Kohayagawa is enjoying his golden years.  He owns a sake brewery but is growing more and more hands-off in its operations.  He has three daughters – the eldest, Fumiko, is married to a company employee.  Next comes Akiko (Setsuko Hara), a widow with a young son.  Youngest is the single Noriko.  This being Ozu, one of the threads of the story is attempts to find husbands for Akiko and Noriko.

More important is the family’s upheaval over Manbei’s reunion with a former mistress and her child who may or may not be his daughter.  Spies are sent out and when suspicions are confirmed Fumiko berates her father harshly.  Manbei’s illness causes a reassessment of the situation and in the end several characters choose between personal happiness and familial obligations.

I always gush about Ozu films and why should this be any exception?  There’s a lot of comedy here and well as true poignancy.  He captures that feeling between exasperation and love for family members that should be familiar to many viewers.

The film is exquisitely shot as usual.  One sequence that both my husband and I remarked on was the arrival of a train.  It begins with a conversation between a man and a woman with unstated undercurrents.  Then you think the man is looking away and the woman looking at him.  It turns out both are looking at an arriving train.  This is indicated simply by sound.  It doesn’t sound like much but the perfection of the composition and the unison of the actors’ movements make it very special.  Highly recommended.

Enjoy this beautiful montage of clips from Ozu’s final six films

6 thoughts on “The End of Summer (1961)

    • I hope your list includes every Ozu you have not seen. The last film of his on my journey is 1962’s An Autumn Afternoon. He died in 1963 at only 60 years of age. I will miss him.

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