Everyone praises Antonioni for his psychological use of color in ‘Red Dessert’, Powell and Pressburger for their expressionistic technicolor tour de force ‘Red Shoes’, Bergman’s symbolic use of color in ‘Cries and Whispers’ and Godard’s trademark “pop art” primary colors in ‘Pierrot le Fou’, but Ozu’s ‘Floating Weeds’ certainly deserves to be mentioned and ranked among the great color films in cinema history.
This was the first color Ozu film I saw and it was an absolute revelation! I believe this was his third colour film (‘Equinox Flower’ being the first) and Ozu shows he is in total command of his palette and paints a sublime technicolor masterpiece! As in the above mentioned films, the use of the color red plays a major part in this film, Ozu uses the color red masterfully throughout the film in one form or another, on costumes, flowers, light fixtures, shop signs, a fire extinguisher, drapery, lipstick etc, your eyes are instantly drawn to the strikingly vibrant color and it becomes a kind of “game”. Ozu’s use of color doesn’t seem “symbolic” or psychological as in Antonioni or Bergman films, it feels more “decorative” and playful, he is using color to accentuate, contrast and complement his “modernist” compositions.
Every shot in the film is artfully considered and immaculately framed (as only Ozu frames). His masterful use of vertical and horizontal architectural lines to fragment the screen space and create frames within frames is breathtaking, he is constantly giving us fresh and interesting perspectives of the environments the characters inhabit and there is often a window that allows us to gaze outside and to meditate on the surroundings, the clear blue sky over rooftops, a heavy downpour, a garden etc.
‘Floating Weeds’ is an immensely pleasurable and calming experience, it is a film to savor.