Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Criterion Masterpieces.3

Ozu's ''Early Summer'' is a delightful movie to watch, pleasant and light in its story, yet thoughtfull and sensitive in a good many respects. Its is also a triumph for Ozu's simple-looking but carefully conceived style of film-making, and the material in the story parallels the style in a natural but satisfying manner.

So many of Ozu's movies portray the distinctive characteristics of the Japan of his day, and yet do so in a way that make the characters and their situations seem almost universal. By focusing so much of the running time on repeated daily routines, even the habits and customs uniques to its own society becomes points of identification, since routines are routines, regardless of how the might differ from one time and place to another.

Here, the family relationships among the central characters are fleshed out carefully, so as to create many possibilites in the interactions between the various generations. There is a significant screne time given to many different characters, and all of them are worh getting to know. Noriko (Setsuko Hara) is the main character, in that she ties together her family with the characters outside of it, and as the movie proceeds, it is her life that gradually becomes the main focus. Ozu's presentation of the preoccupation that the other characthers have with the Noriko's unmarried status is both believeable and perceptive. Hara is a very endearing in the role, and she does very well in portraying her relationships with her reactions to the other characthers.

Given that Ozu deliberately makes very sparing use of camera movement and similar techniques, in favor of simple but carefully composed settings that emphasize the characthers themselves, there is a nice parallel in the way that the story proceeds and the main questions are selolved.

Its enjoyable to watch, and an admirable dispaly of cinematic skill.
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