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Banshun (1949) Online

Banshun (1949) Online
Original Title :
Genre :
Movie / Drama
Year :
Directror :
Yasujirô Ozu
Cast :
Chishû Ryû,Setsuko Hara,Yumeji Tsukioka
Writer :
Kazuo Hirotsu,Kôgo Noda
Type :
Time :
1h 48min
Rating :

Noriko is twenty-seven years old and still living with her widowed father. Everybody tries to talk her into marrying, but Noriko wants to stay at home caring for her father.

Banshun (1949) Online

Noriko is 27 years old and is still living with her father Somiya, a widower. Noriko just recovered from an illness she developed in the war, and now the important question pops up: when will Noriko start thinking about marriage? Everybody who is important in her life tries to talk her into it: her father, her aunt, a girlfriend. But Noriko doesn't want to get married, she seems extremely happy with her life. She wants to stay with her father to take care of him. After all, she knows best of his manners and peculiarities. But Noriko's aunt doesn't want to give up. She arranges a partner for her and thinks of a plan that will convince Noriko her father can be left alone. {locallinks-homepage}
Cast overview, first billed only:
Chishû Ryû Chishû Ryû - Shukichi Somiya
Setsuko Hara Setsuko Hara - Noriko Somiya
Yumeji Tsukioka Yumeji Tsukioka - Aya Kitagawa
Haruko Sugimura Haruko Sugimura - Masa Taguchi
Hôhi Aoki Hôhi Aoki - Katsuyoshi
Jun Usami Jun Usami - Shôichi Hattori
Kuniko Miyake Kuniko Miyake - Akiko Miwa
Masao Mishima Masao Mishima - Jo Onodera
Yoshiko Tsubouchi Yoshiko Tsubouchi - Kiku
Yôko Katsuragi Yôko Katsuragi - Misako
Toyo Takahashi Toyo Takahashi - Shige (as Toyoko Takahashi)
Jun Tanizaki Jun Tanizaki - Seizô Hayashi
Ichirô Shimizu Ichirô Shimizu - Takigawa's master
Yôko Benisawa Yôko Benisawa - Teahouse Proprietress
Manzaburo Umewaka Manzaburo Umewaka - Shite

It is the first installment of Ozu's so-called "Noriko trilogy". The others are Early Summer (Bakushu, 1951) and Tokyo Story (Tokyo Monogatari, 1953).

Most of the movie takes place in Kita-Kamakura, about 30 miles from downtown Tokyo. Several years after the release of the film, the director, 'Yasujiro Ozu', moved with his mother to the area and spent the rest of his life there. (His tomb is also located there.) Furthermore, the film's star, Setsuko Hara, also eventually moved to the area and, as of May 2013, reportedly still lives there under her birth name, Masae Aida.

The film was written and shot during the Allied Powers' Occupation of Japan.

In the 2012 version of "Greatest Films of All Time" Sight & Sound poll Late Spring appears as the 15th greatest film of all time.

The film was subject to the Occupation's official censorship requirements.

The occupying American forces in Japan following World War II censored two specific lines in the script regarding the main character's health and the state of Tokyo. Director Ozu was forced to change these lines in the film.

Ranked number 53 non-English-speaking film in the critics' poll conducted by the BBC in 2018.

At about 45:24 Noriko's aunt mentions a baseball movie starring Gary Cooper. The movie she's referencing is The Pride of the Yankees (1942).

This film has a 100% rating based on 24 critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #331.

User reviews



The first time I read about Ozu, I immediately became obsessed to see his films. Based on what I heard, I knew I would love them. The first one I saw was Tokyo Story, pet of film historians, which disappointed me (although I've later learned to love it like any other Ozu). After that came End of Summer and Late Spring, which both floored me with both emotion *and* intellectual delight. Even after seeing it I can't stop thinking about Late Spring, and now I'm ready to herald it as one of the greatest films I've ever seen.

Late Spring perfectly encapsulates Ozu's one and only theme: the inevitable sadness of life caused by change. It's a theme that never goes away. However, hardly no one else than the Japanese were able to tell you about change in the 1940's. Mind you, Ozu made his greatest films during a period when Japan became under the Western influence: Coca Cola and baseball became commonplace, industrialism and capitalism accelerated rapidly, and the concept of a traditional Japanese family and society became to fall apart. Considering the value of traditional Japanese culture, this change shouldn't be underestimated. Unlike Wim Wenders in his Ozu documentary Tokyo-ga, Ozu's point of view in this matter isn't preachy, however. What makes his films so fantastic in the end game is his sophisticated yet simple-minded philosophy of life: change and sadness are both essential and inevitable in life, and we have to accept it.

Not that Late Spring isn't amazing when forgetting its context. Ozu's relentlessly formalist visual style his apparent here, and both Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara deliver what are staggering performances. The film is brilliantly lyrical, especially the ending, which I consider one of the saddest and most touching movie endings aside Robert Bresson's Au hasard Balthasar: the father (Chishu Ryu) returns to home from his daughter's wedding, sits down to peel an apple, but soon understands his loneliness, and how inevitable it is. From here Ozu cuts to a simple shot of waves hitting shore, without trying to underline or prove anything. The End. This is what movies are all about.
Simple fellow

Simple fellow

This is my favorite Ozu film. I like to think that it is an homage to Italian Neorealism. But I'm mostly writing in defense against those who don't like Setsuko Hara's acting. First of all, whenever we western audience viewers critique someone's acting, the main argument is that it's not realistic.

Well, I would like to say that Hara did a very realistic portrayal of her character. The women of 1949 Japan had her mannerisms that we will probably find "annoying".

This is a difficult film for those who are not used to "Eastern" style of films. Especially ones from the 1940s. As long as we watch with an open mind, the theme of the film is as universal as it can get. Who knows? In 50 years, someone will make fun of Naomi Watts' acting in "21 Grams" deeming it unrealistic.


"Late Spring" (Japanese, 1949): Every time I see another Yasujiro Ozu film, I am more amazed and further impressed. As a director, he was a master of understated elegance. Think of him as a moving wood block print, or an extended Haiku poem. His images, symbols, photography, composition, editing, dialog, story… they're all controlled to a masterful degree, and patiently lead you from one point to another. "Late Sprint" is the story about an older daughter who has never left her father. She is completely satisfied to stay at home caring for him (the mother died many years earlier). Everyone is concerned about her, applies pressure, and she resists. The father realizes it is he alone who might convince her to enter Life on new terms. Do NOT take Ozu's landscapes and city scenes as mere non-story scenery. Instead, watch for them to represent current conditions, emotions, and truths.


"Late Spring" remains possibly Ozu's perfect depiction of postwar Japanese family life; this study of a widower (Chishu Ryu) and his unmarried daughter (Setsuko Hara) and the societal pressures to conform (they are happy with their lives, but all their friends and relatives think the daughter must get married) is full of subtle humor, gentle poignancy, and sharp insights. The ending, with the father left all alone, is devastating: it is difficult to express in words how the act of peeling an apple can be made to convey so much emotion, but Ozu's mastery is such that he is able to make this gesture seem as earth-shattering as the most special-effects laden action climax.


The revelation of Noriko's wedding dress is perhaps the most powerfully painful moment of cinema I've ever experienced. The contrast between her freedom before her wedding, the moving camera (very foreign to Ozu) her range of emotion, her geographical and social freedom, and the deeply disturbing oppression that her wedding signals is very affecting. It is gutting. And so devastating that she accepts her oppression. Powerful, if needing commitment and patience. Especially the six minutes of the impenetrable Noh play.


The concept of mono no aware is said to define the essence of Japanese culture. The phrase means "a sensitivity to things", the ability to experience a direct connection with the world without the necessity of language. Yasujiro Ozu sums up this philosophy in Late Spring, a serene depiction of the acceptance of life's inevitabilities and the sadness that follows it. The film shows the pressure in Japanese families for children to be married as the "natural order" of things, regardless of their wishes. One wonders if Ozu, who never married, is sharing his own family experience with us.

In Late Spring, a widowed Professor, Somiya (Chishu Ryu), must face the inevitability of giving up his daughter, Noriko (Setsuko Hara) to marriage. Noriko, however, wants only to continue to live at home and care for her father and insists that marriage is not for her. Yet the social pressure to marry continues to build, coming not only from her father but also from Somiya's sister Masa (Haruko Sugimura) whom she calls "Auntie", and from a friend, the widower Onodera (Masao Mishima) who has recently remarried. Masa, unrelenting, presents Noriko with a prospect named Satake who reminds her of actor Gary Cooper, but she is still reluctant. To make it easier for Noriko to decide, Somiya tells her that he is planning to remarry and she will no longer need to take care of him. Noriko's agonizes over her decision and her once beaming face increasingly carries hints of resignation. At the end, the old man sits alone peeling a piece of fruit as the ocean waves signal the inexorable flow of timeless things.


Robin Woods in his fascinating new book of criticism "Sexual Politics and Narrative Film" writes eloquently about this film as a defining example of Ozu's films progressive nature. I would agree and add wholeheartedly that even after reading Wood's non-traditional take on Ozu I was still blown away by the film's rich identification with the character of Noriko (played by the legendary Setsuko Hara). The story is simple: Noriko a single Japanese woman is living a seemingly happy life caring for her widowed aging father. Social pressures, however, force family and friends to believe that Noriko can only be fulfilled by entering into marriage, although Noriko seems to have no interest in marriage herself. With this simple narrative Ozu is able to create a relationship between his characters that is so rich and complete we feel we know them. As always this is done with the smallest of carefully studied behavior and the precision of mise-en-scene over fancy editing and dazzling camera movements. A wonderful, heartbreakingly real movie from one of Japan's greatest directors.


I've watched this film many times and love it very much. Ozu made Hara perfectly beautiful in this film. Noriko devoted her father and didn't want to marry because of him. He would be lonely if she married. Father and daughter lived happily together, but when she saw an elegant widow at Noh theather, she had jealousy. Hara Setsuko's acting was perfect as Noriko who was in love with her own father. No other actress could act like that. She was only Noriko. So director Ozu didn't change her role name Noriko for Setsuko Hara. Noriko in Banshun(Late Spring), Noriko in Bakushu(Early Summer),Noriko in Tokyo Monogatari(Tokyo Story) and I am Noriko as Setuko Hara's No.1 fan in Japan.


LATE SPRING is another insightful look at 20th century Japanese life by master film-maker Yasujiro Ozu. A really perfect film. A great script that centres around a wonderful father/daughter dynamic as it probes into generational gaps, tradition, marriage and life during the reconstruction of post-war Japan. Beautiful acting by Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara bring to life screenwriter Kôgo Noda's realistically written characters. As always Ozu threats both his audience and characters with the respect they deserve. The image of Setsuko Hara in her wedding clothes is certainly one of cinema's most beautiful and touching moments. A genuine masterpiece!


Through an eBay auction, I was so lucky to find a DVD of Yasujiro Ozu's "Banshun (Late Spring)" since it's not available yet in the US, where I imagine it will be released some day through the Criterion Collection. This is how new viewers like myself have discovered the other two classic films of his Noriko trilogy, 1951's "Bakushû (Early Summer)" and 1953's "Tokyo Monogatari (Tokyo Story)". This 1949 film is perhaps the most Japanese of the three as it concerns the rather unearthly devotion a daughter named Noriko has for her widowed professor father, Shukichi. While an American film would have touched upon the incest angle, under Ozu's immaculate direction, there is nothing unseemly about the relationship. She thoroughly enjoys taking care of him, but her father knows she must get married.

A meddlesome aunt named Masa aggressively sets up an arranged marriage with a supposed Gary Cooper-look-alike (though we never see him). Noriko resists all efforts until Shukichi and Masa convince her that he is getting married to a woman she eyes with remorse at a Noh play. Noriko reluctantly agrees to marry but never really accepts the reasoning that she needs a husband. In a beautifully economic scene only Ozu could convey, Shukichi peels an apple after the wedding and sadly bows his head to cry. Even though the later "Tokyo Story" deals with death, this is the most emotionally naked of the trilogy, as it is palpable how Noriko cannot truly succumb to the supposed joy of marriage.

It's no wonder Setsuko Hara became a huge star in Japan with this film. She plays Noriko with a wellspring of emotion from scene to scene - headstrong, petulant, flirtatious (the sliced pickle comment is pretty saucy), blindly devoted, masochistic, and guardedly happy. Ozu gives her the full glamour treatment as well, having the camera linger in a medium shot on her beautiful, often smiling face, for instance, during the fanciful bike ride on the beach and the lengthy Noh play scene. Even though Hara plays three different characters in the trilogy, all named Noriko, it's fascinating to see how she seamlessly manages the evolution from high-spirited daughter here to emancipated working woman choosing to marry on her terms in "Early Summer" to resigned widow lost in her solitude in "Tokyo Story". She is memorable.

Familiar Ozu regular Chishu Ryu gives his most sympathetic and accessible performance as Shukichi with a touch of appropriate absent-mindedness. The rapport between the two feels genuine, and it amazes me how they can be so convincing as father-daughter in one film and brother-sister in the next. Another Ozu mainstay, Haruko Sugimura, excels at willful, often irritating characters, and her unrelenting portrayal of Masa exemplifies her unique talent. It's intriguing that Hara and Sugimura have an almost duplicate scene in both "Late Spring" and "Early Summer" where the older woman cajoles Noriko to marry - the actors play the scene with sweetness and surprise in the latter film, whereas turmoil and regret fill a similar turning point in this one.

There is some wonderful acting on the sidelines - the comically cherubic Masao Mishima as the "unclean" Mr. Onodera (I love the scene where he keeps pointing in the wrong direction to get his bearings in Kamakura); Jun Usami as Shukichi's assistant Hattori, a seemingly perfect suitor for Noriko who turns out to be unavailable but not overly so; and Yumeji Tsukioka as Noriko's worldly divorced best friend Aya. Note Aya's completely Western home (ironically filmed at Ozu's typical tatami-sitting eye level), one of many interesting American touches in the film, including the anachronistic use of "Here Comes the Bride" to introduce the wedding scene. The Kyoto sequence is particularly affecting with a fine use of real locations (Kiyomizu Temple, Imperial Palace) and the moving scene when Noriko and Shukichi come to their mutual understanding of the future.

This is said to be Ozu's personal favorite, and I can understand why as the director tells a simple story with relatable truths and honest intensity, even though the relationship is rather unusual by Western traditions. A holistic view of the Noriko trilogy shows "Early Summer" to be more comical and "Tokyo Story" more universally poignant, but "Late Spring" is a gem all on its own. This DVD gratefully has English subtitles, though the translation can be a bit sketchy at times. The print transfer is not pristine (some scenes are overly dark) but not as bad as I feared. There are no extras, as I expect there will be once Criterion does decide to release this classic.


This is an excellent Japanese drama by one of its greatest directors.The story is quite simple but directed masterfully and leaves you thinking for a long time after the watching.I just want to comment on one aspect which seems to me very important for better understanding of the movie and which hasn't been tackled upon yet by other viewers.I don't think that the father's only concern about his daughter is her just getting married.It is especially seen in the scene where he is talking about the issue with a woman in the bar at the end of the film.There is some feeling of selfish future plans on both sides while they smile and talk to each other.I think that Noriko felt it,too, but couldn't go against her father's will.This is something that is not stated clearly,but rather hinted by certain phrases,looks,smiles and emotions. Highest recommendations.A true gem!


Yasujiro Ozu has been hailed as one of the great masters of cinema for years. I have to agree with those film scholars and critics because Late Spring is a prime example of good cinema. Everything in this film flows like a gentle river. I was fascinated and completely thrilled by every second of this great work of art. Setsuko Hara and Chishu Ryu are just wonderful. You just have to forget about classical Hollywood montage and editing, you will not find any of those rules here. The master create all new ones and I guarantee that if you try one, you will want to see more of his films. This was the third work by Ozu that I had the chance to watch and I can't hardly wait to see another one.

Sincerely, I urge anybody that love cinema to see this one, quite simply one of the greatest films I have seen. 10/10


In most of Yasujiro Ozu's movies, and in all of the ones seen by me, the people are, more or less, middle class. In "Late Spring," that description holds just barely, as the characters belong to the extreme academic elite. (I did a postdoc in Japan, but didn't move in circles anywhere near that rarefied.)

"Late Spring" tells the story of a widowed father and his single daughter. The father, a professor of considerable status, is very much an iconoclast, with a familiarity with foreign cultures that is deep and broad. The daughter, at ease among her father's colleagues, casually eats bread and bakes cakes herself. In many circumstances, these behaviors surely precipitate hails of abuse faster than you can say Masao Miyamoto. Yet the father has not hardened into a simplistic contrarian or provocateur, but shows a broad-minded appreciation of the variety of things wanted from life, and a far-sighted sense of the effort needed to attain them.

Although the daughter is growing a bit old for marriage, she and her father have a comfortable and interesting relationship, and they could easily go on for some time as they are. Marriage would be an unpleasant disruption, as the father is otherwise alone, and the daughter, not in love with anyone, cannot expect to find a match as sophisticated and companionable. But there is no future for her in remaining single.

Like, and in contrast to, Spielberg's "A.I.," with its negative illustration that love entails a concern for the other's future, "Late Spring" has a strong positive illustration of this -- the father's love for the daughter is especially palpable. The movie follows father and daughter feeling out things during the course of work, at home, and among friends. While the plot is in one sense pedestrian, in another sense, this is a critical point in their lives, and it is extremely dramatic, not despite but because of the absence of false melodrama. And it is a pleasure to spend two hours observing these thoughtful and fully human characters.

By most descriptions, the father merely pretends to toy with the idea of remarrying so his daughter will let go, and in fact plans to live out his days alone. But I don't see the father as having completely closed off the possibility. A marriage is arranged for the daughter, one that strikes me as realistic and nice. What does come poignantly to an end with the daughter's wedding is the life shared with her father.


Late Spring was the film that made me discovered Ozu, and it was a powerful experience. I am still amazed at the level of intensity of feelings reached in this film with apparently so little effects. I also discovered Setsuko Hara in that film and I was hooked from that unforgettable moment when her smile fades from her face on hearing her aunt mention the possible remarriage of her father. Ozu's films made me discovered a new way of filming people and their relationships to each other. For instance the often mentioned low camera position he used emphasizes the feet of his actors and makes the viewer aware of the different footsteps of each character- Setsuko Hara's feet for instance seem to dance, barely touching the mat(tatami). We thus experience a perspective on the human body different from western films which tends to focus on the upper part of the body and make little case of feet. I think Ozu's films are a striking example of the possibility to reach out to a distant viewer both in space and in time while remaining rooted in its specific culture without concessions.


A typical Ozu film at its finest It is easy to state what Late Spring is not about: it is not about a young woman trying nobly to sacrifice herself and her own happiness in order dutifully to serve her widowed father in his lonely old age. If Noriko resists the social pressures that compel her into marriage (Ozu's comprehensive analysis of those pressures shows them convincingly to be ir resistible), it is because she is thoroughly aware that she will never be as happy as she is within her present situation. The film precisely defines the choice that contemporary society (post-war Japan, with its conflicts between traditional values and Americanization) offers her: subordination to a husband in marriage, or entrance into the "emancipated" world of alienated labour (i.e., subordination, as secretary, to a male boss). The latter option is embodied in Noriko's best friend Aya, a young woman so completely "modernized" that her legs get stiff if she has to sit on a tatami mat. Far from denouncing the breach with traditional values, Ozu presents Aya with immense sympathy and good humour, the emphasis being on the constraints of her situation. On the other hand, traditional marriage is never presented in Ozu's films as in itself fulfilling, and especially not for the woman (Norikio's father informs her that her mother wept through most of the first years of their marriage).

With her father, Noriko has a freedom that she will never regain: she can go bicycling by the sea with handsome young men, visit sake bars with casual associates, enjoy relatively unrestricted movement. And movement (and its suppression) is the film's key motif and structuring principle. The first half contains (for Ozu) an unusual amount of camera movement accompanying or parelleling Noriko's sense of enjoyment and exhilaration (the train journey, the bicycle ride). The last camera movement in the film occurs in the scene in the park where her father and aunt finalize plans for her marriage. The film then moves inexorably to Noriko's entrapment in an irreversible process, her immobilization (beneath the heavy traditional wedding costume) and final obliteration (the empty mirror that replaces any depiction of the wedding ceremony). The film's final shot of the sea is commonly interpreted in terms of Zen-ian resignation and acceptance (Ozu once remarked that western critics don't understand his films, so "they always talk about Zen or something"); it can equally be read as a reminder of the bicycle ride and the lost freedom.


This is the first film by Ozo that I have seen and it's a revelation. I have the feeling that I entered a new world which I am eager to explore further.

The film is made in 1949, four years after the defeat of Japan, but there are no ruins in sight, on the contrary, landscapes are proper and well maintained, homes are clean and nothing seems to be missing, people live their lives in a way that seems to go on for centuries. The American presence is just hinted by a Coca-Cola sign, or English inscriptions at train stations. Maybe a political statement by Ozu about the perennial continuity of the Japanese civilization despite the destruction Japan had just gone through.

The war is also hardly remembered and hidden back in the past. We learn that the principal hero Noriko (wonderfully acted by Ozu's preferred actress of the period Setsuko Hara) was interned in a labor camp during the war, but nothing in her demeanor and certainly not her radiant smile lets anybody feel about her suffering. She loves being at home and taking care of her father (Chishu Ryu, another favorite actor of Ozu) with a devotion that is troubled only by the insistence of the family to get her married, as social customs demand for a young woman of her age. Eventually she will be curved into accepting a marriage arrangement under pressure by her caring aunt and by her father, who would make anything to have her happy, but only according to the customs and their own conceptions.

It's wonderful to watch how this delicate family drama is being filmed, with a taste and aesthetic balance that makes of each scene a masterpiece worth being seen for its own. Ozu is also a master of using soundtrack, and his matching of visuals and sound sometimes equally effective in creating emotion reminds the use that Hitchcock makes of music in his films.

There is a lot of symbolism in this movie, and I certainly have lost some of the more subtle messages because of my lack of familiarity with Japanese customs and culture. And yet this film is at the same time simple, as well as modern and universal in look, we can resonate with the characters and I had less difficulty in understanding their emotions than in many other Japanese or Far East movies seen through the perspective of my 'western' eyes. At the same time the film has a wonderful human dimension, we can see on screen a story of love and affection between two people who need and are willing to make a huge sacrifice in order for the other one to be happy. This combination of emotions, simplicity and art cinema makes of this movie a real treat.


This is one of the most beautiful and perfect Japanese films I have ever seen. While I have seen and reviewed several other of director Ozu's films, this one stands head and shoulders above the rest. Most of this is NOT because of the plot, as the plot itself is very, very simple. Instead, the masterful way in which the film is constructed is highly reminiscent of a Japanese painting--one that is neither hurried nor unreal in any way. The story is a touching and lovely look at the relationship between a 56 year-old father and his unmarried daughter and it takes a very slow and gorgeous journey. Many of the best scenes are the quiet moments at home between the two leads or their friends--as the relationships seem so real and natural. In most films, super-human and extraordinary people are featured, whereas in this one, the basic humanity and beauty of average decent people is the focus. And while this description may sound awfully dull, it certainly isn't--especially since so many of the moments in the film are incredibly touching and honest.

The main plot line involves the happy man and his daughter living contented lives with each other in post-war Japan. While the father is a widow and he had no other children, he appears to be a genuinely happy and kind man. The daughter is also very content with their life and sees no need to marry. However, outside forces (friends as well as a meddling aunt) push them--trying to get the girl married despite her objections. And after a short time, the father, too, begins to feel this is for the best--even though it will mean losing the most precious person in his life. This struggle is just amazing to watch and is dealt with so honestly and beautifully that I strongly recommend you see this film. An amazing film you just need to see for yourself--just don't be put off by its slow pace--it's all part of the overall artistry of Ozu.


In the post-WWII Japan, the twenty-seven year-old Noriko Somiya (Setsuko Hara) lives a simple but happy life with her fifty-seven year-old widower father, the college professor Shukichi Somiya (Chishu Ryu) in the suburb of Tokyo. Noriko has recovered from a disease she had during the war, and her aunt Masa Taguchi (Haruko Sugimura) and her friend Aya Kitagawa (Yumeji Tsukioka) press her to get married. However, Noriko would rather stay single and taking care of her beloved father. When Masa finds a promising fiancé to Noriko, she tells that her father will remarry sooner, forcing the reluctant Noriko to take a decision.

"Banshun" is another wonderful movie of the Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu about his favorite theme: family and human relationship. Ozu discloses through a very simple storyline, the relationship of a widowed father and his mature daughter and the need of a woman to get married with an arranged marriage as a natural order of life in the traditional Japan, a beautiful and touching story, supported by awesome performances and using a magnificent camera work, with symmetrically framed images and unusual angles. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Pai e Filha" ("Father and Daughter")


If one were to think of an equivalent to the film style of director Yasujiro Ozu it would have to be long novels suffused with detail, but never superfluous detail. Books such as Herman Melville's Moby-Dick- with its descriptions of the whaling industry and vessels, John Steinbeck's The Grapes Of Wrath- with its detailed rendering of the lives of migrant workers, and especially Betty Smith's A Tree Grows In Brooklyn- with its child-like view of a world that overwhelms fresh senses, come to mind, even though the film checks in at a mid-length range of an hour and forty-eight minutes. Ozu's cinema is utterly shorn of melodrama, for all that occurs within its frames advances some aspect of narrative, character development, or social commentary. Yet, some of the most affecting scenes in the whole of his 1949 film, Late Spring (Banshun), are realistic shots of toenail clippings or apple peels, designed to allow the viewer to feel they are intruding in on the reality of the characters. Then there are seemingly throwaway details that also lend authenticity, such as when a meter reader from the electric company comes and requires a stool to read the meter. It has nothing to do with the tale nor symbolism, but immediately 'realizes' the situation for most viewers, especially when a more important character has to get the stool for the ephemeral character.

This film not only was a change in technique and tenor for Ozu, from more socially blunt works, but marked the beginning of the final phase of Ozu's long career, where his focus became almost exclusively the Japanese family unit in the post-war transition years, and his camera movement started to become more and more static with every film released. The film was penned by Ozu and longtime collaborator Kôgo Noda, from a novel called Father And Daughter, by Kazuo Hirotsu. The very naturalistic style of the screenplay and camera work lends an air of realism to Ozu's style that has often been compared to Italian Neo-Realism of the same era, although Ozu's work from this era was never as overtly political as that of the Italian filmmakers. The film follows the life of an aging father, a professor, Shukichi Somiya (Chishu Ryu), and his twenty-seven year old daughter, Noriko (Setsuko Hara), who still lives at home. Worried over her ending up alone, and prodded on by Noriko's aunt Masa Taguchi (Haruko Sugimura)- sister of Shukichi or his wife (it's never delineated), he tries to push his daughter out of the nest and into marital bliss. We never learn what happened to the wife and mother of the household, but we can guess she was killed in the war. We do learn that Noriko was in a labor camp and was very ill and skinny, but has now gotten healthy and plump, according to one of Shukichi's Academic colleagues, Jo Onodera (Masao Mishima), whose remarriage Noriko deems distasteful and filthy. Onodera is a jovial man, and merely one of many who seems to obsess on Noriko's marital status…. What makes Late Spring a great film is that, like great classic novels, it is never preachy nor condescending, but involving. Think of the great novels I compared it to, and then think of the crap put out in recent years by big name authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, T.C. Boyle, or Toni Morrison, and then think of this film and preachy PC films like Brokeback Mountain or Crash, and the comparative difference is manifest. Late Spring can be political when a character takes up an empty seat with his belongings or when Hara forces a smile. One need not have a character stick his tongue down another male character's throat, nor his fingers between a female characters' leg to denote the political stance of the film and filmmaker.

Then there are the terrific technical cinematographic aspects of the film- by Yuharu Atsuta, such as Ozu's patented low angle shots; eyeline mismatches; limited camera movement- such as when Noriko and Hattori go biking, yet it seems as if the world moves by them, not the other way around; the lack of interstitial fades and dissolves; as well as narrative devices, such as ellipses- as when we see Noriko's devastation at her father's supposed remarriage, and then transition to her seemingly positive and happy reaction to meeting 'Gary Cooper;' and transition shots of unidentified locations to link themes and elided time intervals. In many ways, the camera of Ozu frames life similarly to that of Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer, or the great Dutch painting masters, where space, the tension built by spare movement, and the relative positioning of characters is all important.

Ozu has tritely been labeled the most Japanese of all directors by lazy critics, as opposed to his two great contemporaries- Kenji Mizoguchi and the far more famous Akira Kurosawa, both of whose reputations were made with historical dramas, but Ozu is actually the most modern of all the classic directors from Japan, and probably the most Western, if not in approach then in attitude. Late Spring shows this to be true, and considering that the film was a distinct reinvention of the man's art, its success is all the more noteworthy. It's akin to a minor dime store novelist from the late 19th Century all of a sudden morphing into Mark Twain. Were most midlife crises handled as ably- nay, greatly- as this the work of such an artist as Yasujiro Ozu would not be needed to illumine the problem. It almost makes one wish for the human race to be continued to be plagued with ills, for only then will the relevance of such artistic rendering still be appreciated, right along with the greatest of novels and novelists.

And the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago….


The "Noriko Trilogy", as some call it, comprises arguably Ozu's three best known films "Late Spring" (1949), "Early Summer" (1951) and "Tokyo Story" (1953), all with a key character (in some case THE key character) named Noriko.

"Tokyo Story" was first introduced to the Western world nine years after Yasujiro Ozu's (1903-1963) death, as both the late Roger Ebert and the New York Times film critic (not sure if his name means much to today's movie fans, or whether he is "the late" or not) sounded a little embarrassed and apologetic in their respective reviews published in 1972. Today, "Tokyo Story" has a place in any all-time top ten list anywhere in the world.

The three Norikos, all played by Japan's eternal screen goddess Setsuko Hara (1920-2015, living a long life but resolutely left the movie industry soon after her mentor Ozu's death), are very different characters. Noriko in "Tokyo Story" is a widow. The Norikos in "Late Spring" and "Early Summer" superficially appear to be quite similar in being a daughter at the age to be married off (some likens the plot line to Jane Austin's). They are however very different. As I watched the Noriko Trilogy backwards chronologically, I am going to focus on "Late Spring" which I watched just recently. For background to facilitate comparison, here is my IMDb posting on "Early Summer":


"Late Spring" is very much the intimate story between father and daughter, and immediately brings to mind more recent works such as "Poppoya" (1999) (where Ryoko Hirosue and Ken Takakura play daughter and father), "Hana to Airsu" (2004) and "Flowers" (2010). In the latter two, the father-and-daughter story plays only a small part in the multi-plot-line film. In both, the daughter is portrayed by Yu Aoi, who also plays Noriko in "Tokyo Family" (2013), Yoji Yamada's remake of "Tokyo Story" in tribute to Ozu. In "Toyko Family" however, Noriko is an entirely different character, but Yamada cleverly attributed some of the dialogues of the original Noriko to her.

Enough (too much, in fact) background. With apologies, I shall now really focus on "Late Spring". In Ozu's unhurried pace, we see the gentle, blissful life of Noriko and her widower father, an academic, in which her remaining unmarried is just a minor issue. Her father's gentle nudge is laughed away when she tells him that this potential perfect candidate, a student of his that is on very friendly terms with her, is in fact engaged to be married soon to another woman. As well, her buddy, a recent divorcée, seems to be a perfect argument for Noriko that marriages are not made in heaven.

Then, dark undercurrents gradually surfaces in the father's apparent intention to remarry. Noriko's reaction, not in words but in facial expression, is bitter. This development, in any event, has the effect of having her argument for not marrying swept from under her feet. The bridegroom, by all accounts (he never materializes on screen) is a heaven-sent match. The final revelation (to the audience only) is that the father lied to her to make sure that she does not sacrifice her life and happiness caring for him. The closing scene is much talked about: the father alone in the house, peeling an apple for himself.

I don't think written words can do justice to the richness and depth of emotions carried by Ozu's minimalist style.


Noriko is twenty seven and perfectly content in dutifully serving his father in the domestic household. This is an affront to Aunt Masa, who is of the opinion that a woman of her age is much too old to be staying at home cooking and cleaning and resolves to set her up for dating and eventually (well, a little quicker than that), marriage. For Aunt Masa this is not just a personal crisis but a cultural one; she represent the traditional past in which Noriko's rightful place is in the domestic sphere, but alongside her own husband instead of her ageing father. Late Spring engages with this cultural clash borne out of the modernity of post-war Japan. The previous year a law had passed to allow those over twenty to seek marriage without the consent of their parents. Remarrying and divorce are key actions expressed within the film. And yet for Shukichi it is not a matter of parental permission given to Noriko; it is vital that he trick her into marriage rather than allow her to do so via his patriarchal authority. For Shukichi, marriage is not so much a means to further his own lineage as tradition states, but an opportunity to birth new love and life. Ironically his daughter has the opposing view; she begs forgiveness for even entertaining the idea of enjoying another man's company and leaving his home, and is offended by the thought of him remarrying. Yoshiyasu Hamamura, without a single word spoken, makes this clear in his editing.

Late Spring navigates the Japanese home with the utmost attention to geometry and the intimacy within those spaces. Amongst the tea parties, the Noh performances, the grooves of the pagodas, and the meditative zen gardens, the characters are locked in the most rigid of compositions in the domestic sphere. Ozu is infamous for his lack of camera movement - one prominent effect of this being that the compositions are never marred and retain their full force throughout the shot (A similar way in how Kubrick zoomed rather than tracked in Barry Lyndon). Even if a scene calls for the camera to move Ozu is steadfast in his compositional rigidity; in the bicycle ride scene the camera follows Setsuko Hara smoothly, maintaining the confines of the frame and suspending her beaming face aloft in the air with a bizarre, daydream-like quality. Most of the time it is placed right next to the characters as if it was another person kneeling on the tatami mats itself. The flat, perfectly symmetrical POV head shots thrusts us into the intimacies of their conversations immediately. Ozu is less concerned with logical sequencing than he is with letting the image and actors speak for themselves. At times he will simply linger and let the natural ticking of the clock prolong our patience and make the mundane (a closed door, an empty room) agonising. Late into the film, there is an insert of simply a vase, but when we cut back to Noriko, tears are streaming down her face. This seems to me (and it has been highly contested) to be the perfect crystallisation of the still, unmoving life in which she yearns to linger in just a while longer. But she is twenty seven.

Setsuko Hara steals much of the spotlight. How could she not, with her beaming, radiant smile, sharply accentuated nose and wide eyes that flutter when she laughs and leak when she begs forgiveness from her father. She is so content to be the housewife (or housedaughter) that when circumstances force a change in her lifestyle you can visually see the color drain from her face and her features crease up. Ozu at times uses the camera as a feeble attempt to shield these fragile emotions. A heartbreaking scene sees Noriko suddenly decide she has 'other plans' and scurry away across the other side of the road, away from her father, where they both then continue to walk along (this mimicry of form was used more than once by Ozu). We do not see her face but we can guess what is streaming down it; it also causes us to re-evaluate every breaming smile she has flashed. Another effect is a momentary pause in Shukichi's stride, for just a slight moment - perhaps he has finally been convinced that his daughter can no longer be shackled to his home.

There are many of these moments in Late Spring. The ending is often talked of, but I think the climax of the film's emotions comes earlier. Shukichi has, up to that point, uttered dialogue mostly consisting of quiet affirmations and modest little "Ums" and "Ahs" with his bowed head. But he sees his daughter's hesitation at leaving the household and being married off, and slowly and softly begins a monologue that recalls his own marriage. The late wife and mother was not always happy initially, but the two worked hard together and found happiness and a life to share. It is not only his blessing for Noriko but also an open acknowledgement of the changing times and values; the two marriages have begun in different conditions, and she has a chance that he never had. For me the power of the film lies here; not only does it heart-wrenchingly encapsulate the painful truth of growing up from the father's perspective, but it also casts shade on the rather impromptu decision to wed the widow Miwa. We can gleam such an age-old and tested relationship that appears between the cracks even after one of them has passed on, and the father too wants his daughter to experience this. I think we can guess from this scene that he never had any intention of marrying Miwa, but simply wants the best for Noriko. The speech makes his character whole, and utterly unselfish.


After having seen and loving Tokyo Story, a film which is widely considered to be not only master Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu's best film, but also one of the greatest films ever made, I was very eager to see more. Many consider Late Spring another of his absolute best works, and I can happily say that it most definitely met my very high expectations. As with Tokyo Story, this a deep, masterfully-executed and penetrating film examining family life in Japan and the societal and generational pressures which shape it.

As with Tokyo Story, we enter this tale of father, Shukichi Somiya, and daughter, Noriko Somiya, in the middle. 27-year-old Noriko lives together with her father and they appear to be very close. Naturally, questions begin to arise in the mind of the viewer: where is Noriko's mother and why hasn't she ever married? Ozu does a fantastic job of coaxing these questions out in the film's early stages and gives us hints at what has transpired, but never spoon- feeds us by explicitly explaining the backstory. We learn that Noriko had been seriously ill at one point during a period of war and hardship, but has since recovered. Her mother is a mystery for much of the film, but it slowly becomes clear that she has died and that Shukichi is a widower. With this context, the film examines the father-daughter relationship between Noriko and Shukichi and the pressures on them both to have Noriko finally marry and "leave the nest", so to speak.

The strength of this film (and Tokyo Story alike) is how subtly and effectively it tells this story. The screenplay and pacing of the film are phenomenal in slowly and carefully peeling back the layers of the family dynamic. Throughout the film we question the actions and underlying motivations of each of the characters. By the end, the full vision snaps into focus and we are left with a melancholy ending that really sneaks up and packs quite an emotional punch.

Let's begin with Noriko. For the length of the movie she is adamantly against marriage, especially re-marriage. As the details of the backstory filter in, her reasoning begins to become clear. Noriko lost her mother which has obviously affected her very much. As a result, she is very close with her father and wary of leaving him behind. Her mother's death obviously must have been very hard for her father as well, and she references the fact that he needs her to take care of him. She feels that she must be there for him because she fears he may be lonely if she leaves and won't be able to cope as a widower. She is also understandably protective of her father – she is afraid to lose him like she did her mother. Thus, she can't bear the thought of him ever remarrying which, in her mind, could potentially jeopardize their relationship. As the film progresses though, pressures on Noriko to get married come from all sides – her aunt, father, and best friend (and ironically, divorcée) all urging her that she must take this long overdue and necessary step. To her, the relationship she has with her father is more than enough and brings her contentment. However, she is made to feel like she is being selfish in staying home with him, especially when it is suggested that he wishes to remarry. Thus, she eventually gives into these pressures and marries at the end of the film, but is clearly devastated and unhappy with her choice.

Shukichi can be analyzed in the same way. He seems to be very happy with his daughter home and with the lives they are leading together. It isn't until his sister, Masa, makes the observation that Noriko has gone far too long without marrying, that he begins to question things. He too begins to pressure Noriko that she must marry, and begins to insinuate that he wishes to remarry as well and that she need not worry about taking care of him. Many conversations seem to have taken place between Shukichi and Masa off-screen, as at the end of the movie it is revealed that Shukichi's plans for remarriage were fabricated by both he and Masa in order to influence Noriko in her decision. Shukuchi feigns happiness at Noriko's wedding (as does Noriko… quite poorly), but at the end of the film we see him return home to his empty house in a devastating scene where his true distress becomes apparent.

In this moment, the movie strikes a powerful note as we realize neither Noriko nor Shukichi wanted for this marriage to happen and neither are happy with the outcome. They were both made to feel selfish by others around them – Shukichi for keeping Noriko home so long with him and Noriko for keeping her father from remarrying. In reality, neither of these two things are true, but the characters are made to believe them through the pressures of their family and friends. Now, they find themselves in places that neither of them wanted or needed, but that society has deemed "correct" for them.

It's a poignant and thoughtful tale which is marvelously achieved by the strength of spectacular direction and acting. Setsuko Hara is absolutely radiant and Noriko. She shines in every single scene and has such an effortless quality to her acting that makes her every move feel completely natural. Chishû Ryû as Shukichi is equally brilliant as a caring father who is conflicted between keeping his daughter by his side and shooing her out the door to a more socially acceptable life. And everything of course is tied together by Ozu's absolutely masterful direction which makes for a film that is deep, thought-provoking, and emotionally resonant.


It is one of those strange coincidences that occur in life that on the very day the passing of Japanese acting legend Setsuko Hara is announced, the world premiere of the digital restoration of one of her greatest films, "Late Spring," happens at MOMA in New York.

The restoration is a godsend to those who have seen this film only in poor quality circulating prints. There is no more flicker, no more warpage. One of Yasujiro Ozu's greatest achievements now looks the part.

Words cannot do justice to the magnificence of Setsuko Hara's performance as Noriko. Her face and eyes convey her inner torment as her perfect existence is shattered by society's, and her reluctant father's, demand that she marry.

Near the end, Noriko is shown in a mirror in her wedding kimono. Her smile never wavers, but her eyes reveal her despair. Hara's work here is one of the few performances to rival Falconetti's in Dreyer's "La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc."

But Ozu does not neglect Chishu Ryu, whose last scene is heartbreaking.

This film is a minimalist "Vertigo." That is to say, it's one of the greatest films ever made.


Before I watched this film, I saw clips of it from a documentary of the director Ozu. What appears to be a simple premise for a film, the father trying to marry off his 27 year old daughter, is made complicated by the emotions surrounding it. Noriko, played by the stunning Setsuko Hara, is an enigma to us at times. She has her own reasons for resisting the idea of marriage, but they are not well articulated. That is what makes this film a great film-you are left to wonder. This film is about change, the change in relationship, especially to father and daughter, and to themselves. I can't help drawing a parallel between Ms. Hara's Noriko and Ms. Hara herself. Ms. Hara never married and retired from film almost in the height of her career. I wonder how she felt playing this character. The scenes of the father, the always terrific Chishu Ryu and Ms. Hara's Noriko are excellent, and you can see them in other Ozu films. They know each other, and it makes their time on screen together seem that much more special. Its been said that Ozu's films were very Japanese. Except for the landscape, this is truly universal. The acting, the pacing, the direction:superb. Don't miss it!