Writer/director Yasujiro Ozu combines two of his favorite themes--the culture clashes in modern Japan and the emergence of the independent Japanese woman--in Early Summer (Bakushu). Setsuko Hara plays a young woman of the post-war era who is promised in an arranged marriage. But too much has happened in the world and in the girl's own life to allow her to agree to this union without protest. The characters in Early Summer are neither remote historical personages nor distant foreigners. They are types as easily recognizable in Japan as in any country, and this commonality enhances the universal appeal of this austere film. Yasujiro Ozu collaborated on the script of Early Summer with Kogo Noda. Hal Erickson, Rovi
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Dramatizing Yasujiro Ozu's post-war concerns with modernity, tradition, and the freedom of women, Early Summer (1951) explores the effects of an adult daughter's ambivalence about marriage. Through serious and humorous details of conversation, gesture, and ritual that establish the Mamiya family's daily life in a Tokyo suburb, Ozu reveals the web of relationships among Noriko, her brother Koichi, their parents, Koichi's wife and sons, and various friends and associates. While the elliptical narrative leaves out conventionally "important" moments in Noriko's decision about an arranged marriage, the dialogue and imagery speak eloquently to the universal difficulty of maintaining family ties in a changing culture. Though composed with Ozu's customary low, fixed camera and straight cuts, Early Summer is stylistically tied to his earlier work, which features a more mobile camera than his later films: fluidly evocative tracking shots become scene transitions, and a perpendicular crane shot following Noriko and her sister-in-law as they walk through dunes equates them visually as the world literally turns. Featuring a cast of Ozu regulars, including Setsuko Hara and Chishu Ryu, and two rascally boys akin to the sons in I Was Born, But. . . (1932) and Ohayo (1959), Early Summer earned Ozu another first place in Japanese film journal Kinema Jumpo's annual poll of best films. Lucia Bozzola, All Movie Guide
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