The Mamiya family is seeking a husband for their daughter, Noriko, but she has ideas of her own. Played by the extraordinary Setsuko Hara, Noriko impulsively chooses her childhood friend, at once fulfilling her family’s desires while tearing them apart. A seemingly simple story, Early Summer is one of Yasujiro Ozu’s most complex works—a nuanced examination of life’s changes across three generations. The Criterion Collection is proud to present one of the director’s most enduring classics. —The Criterion Collection
Yasujiro Ozu was born in the old Fukagawa district of Tokyo, to a fertilizer merchant, in 1903. In 1923, after a couple of years as an assistant teacher in rural Japan, Ozu was hired as assistant cameraman at the Shochiku Motion Picture Company. Early in his career, Ozu began to experiment with an idiosyncratic film style that ran contrary to the conventions of Japanese or Hollywood cinema of the day. He strove to reduce and simplify his film style; he cast such mainstays as the fade, the dissolve, and the pan from his cinematic palette. He shot solely from a low camera angle, using a 50mm lens, and he subordinated spatial continuity to visual aesthetics. Ozu directed his first film in 1927,The Sword of Penitence. In 1932, he began to hit his creative stride with the touching comedy I Was Born, But…, which was his first commercial success. During World War II, he made few films such as There Was a Father.
After the war, Ozu reached his creative peak and made some of his finest… read more
After watching this film, I grew a different appreciation for Ozu. I got the sense that he really connected with Setsuko Hara's character and wonder if he was a feminist at heart, not unlike Hayao Miyazaki.
I admire how Ozu unspools the layers of the family using some exposition and their ordinary interactions they partake in while sitting or eating. The camera remains, for the most part, at seat-floor level enhancing the intimacy of the interactions. Especially for a film that hardly has any POV shots, it's suprising how intimate the film is. The shot framing made me feel like a guest or a ghost looking in on them.
Best known in the West for her work with Ozu, Awashima performed well into her 80s.
“Touched by a masterpiece, a person begins to hear in himself that same call of truth which prompted the artist to his creative act. When a link is established between the work and its beholder, the… read review
This is an excellent film and I enjoyed it, but for some reason it didn’t register as much as the other Ozu film I’ve seen, ‘Late Spring.’ Noriko, the two small boys (especially the youngest) and… read review
I’m finding that I have to view Ozu’s movies more than one time in order to judge them with any justice. So I will have to watch this one again soon. Some of the moments in the movie with the two boys… read review