Early summer: The Story
Noriko, a Tokyo secretary who resides in Kamakura, lives with her large extended family, which includes her mothers and his dads Shūkichi and Shige, his older brother Kōichi, a doctor, his wife Fumiko and their 2 children Minoru and Isamu.
Noriko’s friends are divided into 2 groups, the married and single, who constantly tease each other, with Aya Tamura being her ally in the singles group. Noriko’s family pressures the girl into accepting Satake’s proposed marriage, agreeing it’s time for her to get married and thinking the proposed marriage is perfect for someone her age.
When Yabe’s mother, Tami, impulsively asks Noriko to marry Yabe and follow them to their northern resettlement, Noriko accepts. The family slowly accepts Noriko’s choice with peaceful resignation and, before she leaves, they take a picture together. Noriko’s moms and dads console themselves by saying that Noriko and Kenkichi will return to Tokyo in a couple of years, reuniting the family.
Are Yasujiro Ozu‘s early films richer than his maturity works? Ozu’s early works were entertaining, student films, heartbreaking dramas, neorealist-style social films, and crime thrillers. Varying in tone and subject matter these films remain essential not only as ideas for the genius of subsequent films, but as significant results in their own right.
In these films by Ozu, meaning simply flows beneath the surface of his film, also enhanced by the still shot pulsing with life. With a larger structure than Late Spring and a more flexible structure than Tokyo Story’s exact balance, Early Summer is freer, larger, more open while displaying the full competence of the mature Ozu.
Early summer: The Style and Themes
While Noriko’s concern about marital relationship is the film’s main force, Ozu uses that force to set other thematic points. The psychological and thematic pressures that Ozu manages to obtain produces some of his finest scenes in Japanese cinema, many of them filmed with that previously inactive moving camera. These scenes reveal Ozu’s art at its peak, gushing with life.
Of course, this mastery is only one side of Ozu. Early summer is located in the heart of Ozu’s cinema, it reveals to the maximum the many divergent elements of his art finally united. In this film, Ozu’s eternal theme comes to the fore again: the time, the source of all beginnings and their inevitable dissolution.
While his later work deals with the passage of time, the setting is an essential style in all of Ozu’s filmography. The camera examines the structure of living and working areas, the location of small rural towns, the architecture of houses, sake bars and workplaces, and the psychological areas that divide and unite the characters in the films.
The sober shots for which Ozu is well known serve to represent the everyday life of postwar bourgeois society in Japan, and these arguments are consistently repeated. Perhaps the most identifiable of Ozu’s visual hallmarks is his shot of the interior of the rural house, a multi-layered, deep structure, largely mixed with things, but nonetheless organized by the geometry of the Japanese style.
Ozu is famous for the simple, fixed structures of his latest films, but much of his early work, especially in the early 1950s, is quite mobile, the camera roaming the many domestic areas, cataloging objects and calmly observing the place. of the action. Ozu uses this style in particular in 1952’s The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice: the camera explores the empty spaces of the couple’s home, the place where people live and with their psychological differences. The boundaries within the house and between individuals emerge from the plots of his films – as in Tokyo Story. Senior moms and dads travel to Japan to visit their family in the city, or in The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice, places threaten to separate the couple’s marital relationship.
Early summer: The Characters
In many ways, Ozu’s 1951 film Early Summer is the pinnacle of his psychological and geographical research on family. Throughout the film, the camera is in motion, with shifts that underscore the transformation of the family: the conversation of uncle’s long train ride from Yamato and boyfriend Kenkichi’s departure for Akita closes the film, with many train rides. of commuters to Tokyo in the middle. Kids’ fixation with their toy train (and the whining and angry outbursts associated with it) also resonates with this style of travel and separation, especially between moms and dads and their kids. When the kids run away from home outraged by their dad’s refusal to buy them more train tracks, it takes on even more meaning.
At the heart of the film, as in many of Ozu’s family dramas, is concern over Noriko’s marital relationship. Setsuko Hara once again plays the character of Noriko, Ozu’s stereotypical Japanese “lady next door”, practical and courteous, yet a little childish and self-indulgent.
It seems to her family (and especially her stubborn brother) that Noriko is simply affirming the kind of self-reliance that so many women actually required at the end of the war. As Noriko later describes, it is the possibility of Kenkichi’s departure – of his being away from her – that triggers her awareness of her feelings for him and her choice to leave his family.
Noriko’s love for Kenkichi is not clearly represented in the film, the boyfriends appear together in only a handful of scenes, however this true absence of love suggests the maturity behind Noriko’s choice. At the end of the film, Ozu clearly describes Noriko as a positive woman running towards the waves on the beach. This image is almost similar to the final shot of The Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family, in which the moralist and sober Shojiro escapes his possibility of a marital relationship.
In the film’s closing minutes, Ozu leaves us not with the image of strong, independent Noriko on the beach, but of a Noriko crying over the loss of her family and the breakup she actually triggered. Previously, Ozu actually underscored this circularity and this “new beginning” with a repetition of the film’s very first few minutes: the patriarch painting his bird cages in his research studio, the sound of a music box echoing in the soundtrack.
As we leave Noriko in tears over the loss of her family, we take a step back in time to Yamato in the West, where Noriko’s moms and dads have actually decided to stay with her great-uncle, experiencing their aging among placid wheat fields. barley. With Koichi and his family still in suburban Tokyo and Noriko in the far north, the distance between the family is now much more than the confines of the small house at the beginning of the film. Through the movement and the environment, the final image of the film is another roundup, flowing through the wheat fields.