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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 3,639 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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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:

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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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User Reviews

 
Without a host, a wind roars across.
16 February 2014 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

Here Ozu extends his previous Late Spring, a film also about separation and taking the next step in life. It is once more about a young girl and marriage, another Noriko who is not the same one from the previous film nor anyone but a girl like her. We already have this extension of world, which I think will be one of the most valuable contemplations on the journey through the filmmaker.

In Late Spring we had with clear, wonderful strokes an idyll at the childhood home with the father, and suffering as the girl pushed against the inevitability of having to go on. The realization was from the outside, a long speech by the father.

Look how this is transformed here. This Noriko is not pushing against it, all through the film she mostly keeps quiet as everyone around her worries. They find a potential groom, investigate if he's respectable enough, try to coax an answer from her, they're happy or despondent. She is a viewer of all this being made into a narrative around her, as a result the film is not as 'pure' and concentrated as Spring, it flies off in several directions. But it matters as a way of creating a marvelous contrast between her quietly waiting and everyone else worrying and fretting about the future, trying to shape the story.

This is what's so beautiful here.

All through the film there is a notion of something inevitable ahead, in Spring this was the cause of a lot of worrying. Here we have all that around her and her just biding time, until eventually she decides on it, spontaneously one night. The new groom isn't ideal, there's a child from a previous marriage, she must travel to the countryside with him. But intuition tells her he's a man he can trust and everything else will fall into place. All her parents' worrying was for nothing. All that slowly fades, appearing ridiculous like a bad dream in the clear morning.

It's all about trusting life to reveal itself, about not giving into despair, surfing on the difficulty; one of the most vital insights in my world.

But does Ozu weave this in a visual way? It can't be just said out loud, this is the Buddhist wisdom; you have to make life from it.

He does. We have three visual meditations on what this all is, among the most erudite of the first 50 years.

An old grandfather who everyone thinks deaf, his impetuous grandson calls him a fool in his face and he smiles and stares, they're all amused when he goes to see a play; can he hear anything? But later in a discussion with the family we see that he is lucid and participates just fine. So when the kid makes fun of you you can be angry and insulted, or you can be the blissful 'old fool' for whom there is no sound being uttered.

Second is a scene of Noriko's aging parents, they are sitting in a ledge outdoors contemplating a full life together, where does it go? They look up at the sky and see a balloon carried by the wind, the father muses that a kid somewhere must be crying. A kid somewhere is crying, but all around them is quiet and that disappearing balloon is itself how fleeting and meaningless is the worry, small against the bright sky. Marvelous!

The last is near the end, the marriage has been decided, it's apparent to all that all their fretting was for nothing. The father is out on a morning walk, about to cross the tracks when the bars come down, a train is about to pass. All sorts of obstacles come up in life, but it would be ridiculous for the man to suffer because he can't get across right away. He sits on a bench, the train passes, the bars come up again. How are emotions unlike this?

So I'm very happy about the film. It's of course superb Buddhist annotation on what forms suffering and self, but that's not it. I have fretted in the past about Ozu, clear eye but all sorts of obstructions in the cinematic brushstroke. It seemed like such a waste.

Here Ozu triumphs in a visual way, letting the landscape tilt to where he wants to dance. He builds with steady flow, it is an early appearance of the Cassavetes effect of creating threads to uncertain horizon. But being Japanese, the upside is that we have no searing drama and just the quiet turning of skies. I'm eager to see where he goes from here.

It's a difficult project for sure, you want to convey less than self and more than just an empty landscape, an aesthetic composition. In the terms of Zen Master Foguo it's a bit like this: when there is a self, there is guest and host, in our case worrisome story; when there is no self, a wind roars across the empty house, but where's the life in that, the falling in love. So how to balance?

Something to meditate upon.


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