Okada and Kato, students at 'W' [i.e. Waseda] University, in Tokyo, live in the same lodgings. One morning, Kato receives a tailor's bill. Okada has seen the letter arrive, so Kato tells ... See full summary »
A troupe of actors comes to town, short on funds and bedeviled by bad weather, so they can't put on shows. Kihachi is the troupe's leader. He steals off every day to visit Otsune (an ex-lover) and their son, Shinkichi, who believes his father is a long-dead civil servant. Kihachi has been paying Shinkichi's tuition, and he's now at university. Kihachi's lover, Otaka, the troupe's lead actress, learns Kihachi's secret and plots to ruin Shinkichi and humiliate Kihachi: she offers money to Otoki, the troupe's ingénue, to seduce Shinkichi. Soon the boy is head over heels, and Otoki finds herself with feelings for him. Can this end well or is tragedy at hand? Written by
Uncle? Where is Uncle?
You mean Father?
He went on the road again. Don't try to stop him. Just be a great man. That's all he wants. Since you were born, he's been coming here with that one hope in mind.
[Shinkichi and Otoki cry. Shot of the daruma doll]
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Admittedly, this is the first film I've seen of Ozu, but I definitely get a sense that this wasn't a great place to start. It was pretty good but I could almost feel Ozu's slower, more contemplative style really straining to come out.
It's a melodrama about a traveling actor and his son, who thinks he (the actor) is his (the son's) uncle. When "Uncle" comes to visit with his struggling acting troupe, the 20-year-old son falls in love with one of the actresses under the uncle, which causes a lot of drama as actors are very low class in the Japanese society of the time and the father left his son specifically to keep him away from such a low-class situation (at least that's what he says... his motivations may be a bit different).
The key thing at work in this film is definitely craft. Ozu obviously has a very specific, strong craft to the way he organizes things. Yet still this film is rather straining against it's cuts, so to speak, and even if I haven't seen it, I'd imagine Ozu's own remake "Floating Weeds" is better as it's probably more contemplative and presents the dialog-rich story in sound.
I'm not saying this is a bad film in any rate, I'm just saying that I can tell from watching it that Ozu can do better.
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