Seeing this film is more like looking at a photo album than watching a movie. Characters seem to walk in and out of set scenes, speaking while in the set, and then it is on to the next photo. Some concession need be made for a black and white film from 1956 and for the style of Yasujiro Ozo, yet this approach to film making seems to destroy the continuity of the film. For example, one jumps from tones of Japanese industrial society (340,000 office workers in one city) to hiking on a highway to sitting and drinking tea. This may in fact be the thread of industrial postWWII Japan, but it seems not the fabric. The result appears to be a lack of a coherent Japanese identity, for costumes and jobs appear not to be enough to transcend the disruptive nature of the editing. Ozu is the master of the set scene, but the editing appears disjointed rather than cohesive. There also seems to be a dependence on American stage production rather than Japanese movie making. One cannot help be see a relation between this film and the stage plays of Tennessee Williams and of Arthur Miller. I seem to get the feeling I am watching a Japanese docu-melodrama in Italian neo-realism. I half expect to see Burt Lancaster leap into one of the scenes. The Left Elbow Index considers seven variables of film--acting, film continuity, character development, dialogue, production sets, and plot. The acting is average since there seems to be little more to do than sit and talk. The film continuity is also rated as average, despite the what seems to be disjointed action and time. The character development and plot need help. There is little verbo-robots can become, and the plot of infidelity in marriage seems always to follow the same course, with minor personal variations. The production sets are rated average since in black and white most sets are simply degrees of gray. Average is the rating given to the dialogue. It is functional but appears to lack insight. The best line is "Babies come quicker than raises." The artistry rates average, again color would help, as it does in Ozu's THE END OF SUMMER. The overall LEI average is 3.83, raised to 4 in tribute to Ozu's reputation, which equates to a 6 on the IMDb scale. I recommend the film, it is worth watching as an integral part of film history, keeping in mind that the best of Japanese films have not yet arrived in 1956.
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