Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Early Summer - Criterion Collection|
Actors: Setsuko Hara, Chishu Ryu, Chikage Awashima, Kuniko Miyake, Ichirô Sugai
Director: Yasujiro Ozu
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
A nuanced examination of a family falling apart, Early Summer tells the story of the Mamiya family and their efforts to marry off their headstrong daughter, Noriko, played by the extraordinary Setsuko Hara. A seemingly sim... more »
A pleasant vignette - marriage and a woman's right to choose
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 05/31/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The more Ozu films I watch, the more I fall in love with the simplicity and elegance of his storytelling. Like all his work, "Early Summer" ("Bakushu") is a beautiful snapshot of the human experience, in this case a 28-year old woman being pressured by her family to marry and balancing her own happiness with the happiness of those around her. The tone of the film, like the weather in the title, is light and happy like a soft gentle early summer breeze. Whimsical and joyful, even while dealing with a potentially heavy subject.Arranged marriages (O-Miyai) are still practiced in Japan today and were much more common when "Early Summer" was made in 1951. In the cases of women like Noriko (Setsuko Hara), who at 28 would be considered almost an old maid, if she hasn't found a love-match by now, it is best to arrange a marriage before she becomes too old for anyone to take her. However, Noriko is a modern woman, with ideas for her own happiness as her family will soon find out.Ozu's simplicity is never boring, and Setsuko Hara is so completely charming that her smile can carry any story. "Early Summer" utilizes many of Ozu's principle actors, and Chishu Ryu is on hand as Noriko's older brother Koichi, although he would play her father two years later in "Tokyo Story." Criterion's presentation of "Early Summer" is every bit the jewel you would expect it to be, with Ozu-expert Donald Richie supplying the commentary track, and a documentary called "Ozu Films from Behind-the-Scenes" detailing his working methods and camera techniques."
hume | place United States | 01/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"few films have moved me as much as this one, my third and favorite ozu. the other reviewers have touched on most everything, i'll only say that this film has much more humor than i expected and for much of the movie i was either smiling or out-right laughing. the single girls vs. the married women, the brother spying on the conversation between his wife and sister, the cake scene (i smiled the whole time, then laughed), even the bratty kids. i could go on for a while. but this film also made me cry (you can probably guess where). so many beautiful scenes, quiet, pure acting, long shots of moving and subtle scenery. i had given up on showing ozu to others, because it's usually seen as boring and nothing happening, but this movie has put the impetus in me once again. i want to force everyone i know to watch it!"
Classic Ozu Film
hume | 01/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Early Summer is a variation on a seemingly perennial Ozu theme, namely, a family trying to arrange a marriage for a daughter and the daughter showing she has a mind of her own. The idea of an arranged marriage ("omiai" in Japanese) may seem strange to Western viewers. But they were quite common in Japan when this movie was made. The film centers around the character Noriko, played by Setsuko Hara (who interestingly was called the "eternal virgin" by her fans). Noriko is 28 and still single. Her boss finds a potential husband and her family gets all excited. But Noriko balks at the arranged marriage. What she eventually decides to do will likely surprise you. Keep in mind that Japan was in a period of transition when Early Summer was made. Many of the old ways, including arranged marriages, were being challenged by the younger generation.What I enjoy most about watching this and other Ozu films is the focus on character rather than plot. We really get to know the people in this movie, as if they were members of our own family. Setsuko Hara gives an outstanding performance as the sweet but rebellious Noriko. This film is a good introduction to Ozu for people who've never seen any of his movies.UPDATE: People who may have been hesitant to purchase this movie because it's only on VHS will be pleased to know that Criterion has acquired the rights to several Ozu classics, including Early Summer, Tokyo Story and Floating Weeds. According to a recent Criterion press release, the first DVD release of these titles is scheduled for the fall of 2003."
A Match Made by a Dead Man
Liam Wilshire | Portland, OR | 01/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"EARLY SUMMER is not Ozu's greatest film, it is merely my personal favorite. The reason is simple: Noriko Mamiya, played by the incandescent Setsuko Hara, is one of the most fascinating, perverse, and peculiar female characters in all of world cinema. Every viewing of EARLY SUMMER peels away new layers of her guilelessness, revealing more and more quiet audacity.
Noriko lives with her brother (Koichi), his wife, her elderly parents, and her brother's bratty young sons. She dresses in simple western styles and works as a typist. Koichi is an imperious man with old-fashioned ideas about the role of women, and he intimidates the whole family. Except Noriko. Not that she is ever defiant towards him, she has simply mastered the art of smiling deferentially and continuing along her own inscrutable path in life.
Her family, friends, neighbors, and professional associates all take note of her age (28!) and begin to pester her about getting married before it is too late: Noriko smiles deferentially at every suggestion, insinuation, or act of coercion. There is even some speculation that she might be a lesbian.
One member of her family is unable to advise Noriko, and that is Shoji, her older brother who has been M. I. A. since the war and is presumed (by any reasonable standard) to be dead. Ozu is a master of evoking what is out of frame, continually reminding us that there is an unseen world that interacts with what he allows us to see. The absent and lovingly remembered Shoji turns out to be a force that points Mamiya to her groom, a man who unites the family in his absolute unsuitability for Noriko. In my favorite scene, Noriko denies to her friend Aya that she is in love with her intended--and then describes her exact feelings for him in words that perfectly define the phenomenon of being in love.
The new subtitles by Donald Ritchie are only at times preferable to the ones on older prints. On the one hand, the bawdiness of some of the dialogue is much more clear in Ritchie's translation, but on the other hand the titles have become far more prosaic. Sadly, the two best lines in the film have had all the poetry sucked out of them in this version. I will give you the original translations, and you can read Ritchie's for yourself. When Koichi finds his two sons abusing a loaf of bread, the translation of his outburst used to read, "Don't kick food!"
Lastly, when the two elderly Mamiyas share a sandwich in a park, they see a toy balloon floating off into the sky. In a perfect distillation of Yasujiro Ozu's ability to draw our attention to what is off screen, the husband's line of dialogue used to be, "Somewhere a child is crying." Maybe Ritchie's is more accurate, but that was one line he should never have touched."