17 June 1920, Yokohama, Japan. Setsuko Hara became one of Japan’s best-loved stars over her 30-year film career. Her signature character type, variations on a daughter devoted to her parents and home, inspired the nickname that stayed with her until retirement: the Eternal Virgin. To some extent, reality mirrored her roles in these films. In a society that considers marriage and parenting almost obligatory, she remained single and childless, something of a controversy in Japan in the 1950s. Fortunately she was popular enough to avoid criticism, but the 1950s were still a hard decade. She was plagued by ill health, missing out on several roles top roles as a result, and she witnessed the bizarre death of her cameraman brother in a freak train accident on set.
In 1963, shortly after the death of her mentor, director Yasujiro Ozu, she suddenly walked away from the film industry. At the age of 43 and at the height of her popularity she bluntly refused to perform again, angering her… read more
Setsuko Hara could say more with one smile than five actresses with ten pages of dialogue each. Director Yasujiro Ozu knew that and kept coming back to her. If "Early Summer" had been her only film appearance, she still would have become a film legend in my eyes. With relatively shorter screen time than most of the actors in "Tokyo Story" she's the heart and soul of the film.
The sweetest female to have ever graced the silver screen. Her smile like the wick of a candle can brighten up the darkest corners of the human soul. It is the smile of eternal hope and purity that could have inspired even the likes of Kafka and Dosteovsky.