Early Summer Screen 100 of 8 reviews

Early Summer

1951

Early Summer Poster
  • At its core, EARLY SUMMER is a portrait of life--honest and humane. It's not the big events which define life, Ozu seems to argue. It's the spaces in between where all the substance lives. Ozu's focus might seem small, but within this family's small world and through this family's eyes, we see a universe.

  • The most cheery of Ozu's masterpieces, which means that comedy makes time for tragedy rather than the other way around. Tears of joy, and I count at least ten(!!) shots where the camera moves.

  • ...This may seem like a rather disparate preface to Early Summer, for it is definitively situated in Ozu’s late period, midway between the twin milestones of Late Spring and Tokyo Story... Perhaps this is what makes it my own personal favorite of all Ozu’s films. With a larger canvas than the intensive focus of Late Spring and a looser structure than the exacting symmetry of Tokyo Story, Early Summer feels freer, wider, more open even as it evinces the full-fledged mastery of the mature Ozu.

  • In many ways, it's the apotheosis of Ozu's investigations of domestic, geographical and emotional space. Among all of his films that portray the dissolution of a family, it is one of the few to depict this process from beginning to end. Where The Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family and Tokyo Story begin with their respective families already partly divided, Early Summer opens with a tight, contented family unit and concludes with the family members scattered across Japan.

  • ...Two years before [Tokyo Story], Early Summer (1951) offers a more audacious effort. The movie features nineteen characters (twenty, if you count one who’s mentioned but never appears), and every one, it turns out, is poised between the idyllic prewar years and the new world they now inhabit. Ozu and screenwriter Kogo Noda make each person vividly memorable, then weave all the characters together in a leisurely series of conversations and confrontations.

  • Through tangential stories and brief moments Ozu meticulously observes the lives of some 19 characters, expanding the boundaries of the film’s simple plot with an elliptical narrative. The film is driven forward not by its plot but rather by Ozu’s use of space, time and the constantly changing rhythm of the action.

  • Compassionate and characteristically reserved, Ozu chronicles the disintegration of the traditional extended family as an accepted process of life, and the film evolves with a sense of appropriate inevitability... A spare, beautifully realized story of profound, yet fundamentally human emotions.

  • Ozu's highly ritualized films seem almost identical in surface characteristics: the same plots and characters recur with alarming regularity. But they are all different, one from another, in subtle, mysterious ways, working out the various permutations of points of view. If you've seen one Ozu, you probably have the drift of his austere, quiet style, and you don't need my recommendation. If you haven't, take a chance: they may not be for everybody, but they remain monuments of personal cinema.

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