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Early Summer (1951)
"Bakushû" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  2 August 1972 (USA)
8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 3,548 users  
Reviews: 22 user | 35 critic

A family chooses a match for their daughter Noriko, but she, surprisingly, has her own plans.

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Title: Early Summer (1951)

Early Summer (1951) on IMDb 8.1/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Noriko Mamiya
...
Koichi Mamiya
Chikage Awashima ...
Aya Tamura
Kuniko Miyake ...
Fumiko Mamiya
Ichirô Sugai ...
Shukichi Mamiya
Chieko Higashiyama ...
Shige Mamiya
Haruko Sugimura ...
Tami Yabe
Kuniko Igawa ...
Takako
Hiroshi Nihon'yanagi ...
Kenkichi Yabe
Shûji Sano ...
Sotaro Satake
Toyo Takahashi ...
Nobu Tamura (as Toyoko Takahashi)
Seiji Miyaguchi ...
Nishiwaki
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Tomoka Hasebe
Kazuyo Itô ...
Mitsuko Yabe
Kuninori Kôdô ...
Old Uncle
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Storyline

In postwar Tokyo, this household is loving and serene: older parents, their 28-year-old daughter Noriko, their married son, his devoted wife, and two rascally sons. Their only discontent is Noriko's lack of a husband. Society is changing: she works, she has women friends who tease and argue, her brother sees her independence as impudence, she sees it as normal. When her boss suggests that she marry a 40-year-old bachelor who is his friend, all the members of her family press her to accept. Without seeking their advice, and to their chagrin, Noriko determines her own course of action. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

2 August 1972 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Early Summer  »

Filming Locations:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Referenced in 100 Years of Japanese Cinema (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

 
much more than a family drama
30 October 2009 | by (Herzlya, Israel) – See all my reviews

There are several repeating themes and symbols in Ozu's movies, especially the three films in his famous trilogy around the Japanese 50s where 'Early Summer' is the second installment. For example the film starts with a seashore shot, with waves hitting the sand in eternity and ends with the image of an endless field and a mountain in the background. There two vibrant images are prelude and ending to a film which superficially can be called a feminist family drama, an apparently banal story of a nice and independent girl in a traditional family under pressure to get married. And yet there is a meaning in the relation between the day-to-day family life and the universal dimension of nature - an almost sacred dimension I would say. Ozu treats family life with the full attention and respect that a great artist approaches big universal themes. For him the family is the basic building block of the Japanese society, and family relations are the fabric of the society. Day to day life is filmed with piety, as in a religious ceremony.

Recurring themes abound in 'Early Summer' and will be easily recognized by those who have seen the first film in the trilogy - 'Late Spring': Ozu's passion for trains. The theater as a component of the spiritual life, and as an institution that enables communication between the characters. No music or just minimalist soundtrack as the minuet track that accompanies the family scenes, enhancing the feelings of joy and ritualism. And of course, we have here again the magnificent Setsuko Hara, with the fragility, dignity and interior light that makes of her the Japanese Ingrid Bergman.

By telling an apparently minimalistic family story Ozu tells here again a story about the Japan he was living in, a country trying to come to terms with itself after an horrific war, defeat and occupation. What strikes at the first sight is the normality - the first few tens of minutes of the film could have happened in any of the Western countries of the period and almost nothing reminds the pressure of history around. And yet, this does exist. The elder parents carry with them the memory of a disappeared son. In a restaurant, at the end of a scene where the characters rejoice in jubilation at memories of their young age and past years, and about how the place remained unchanged a rare (at Ozu) move of camera discovers a wall hidden until then with a poster advertising an American airline. The message is low-key but yet distinct and clear - the victors of the war may have imposed their economic and political structures, but the level of pollution of the day-to-day life is relatively low and has little signification relative to the big picture. Eternal Japan survives, tradition, focus on work, and on family life is the key if this survival.

From a visual point of view 'Early Summer' is an even more sophisticated and beautiful film than 'Late Spring'. Many of the scenes of the interiors of the Japanese houses are magnificent, with a symmetric framing of the space, and successive walls and sliding doors that define the perspective and allow for concurrent movements or dialogs to happen in parallel giving a feeling of complexity in the good sense of the word, and helping actually explain the intrigue and progress it all around. Acting is superb, with some of the actors returning here from previous films of Ozu, who directs their words, silence, and movements with sympathy and deep understanding. Even if some of the dialogs at the end of the film are too explicit and sounded didactic and melodramatic to my contemporary and 'Western' taste, by the time we have gotten there we are already knowing and trusting the characters too well so that we can forgive them for speaking a few wooden language words.

It's a simple and sensible film, and a good introduction for those who start exploring the Ozu universe.


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