Early Summer (1951)

I’m starting to really like this genre of film; meaning film that focuses much more on feelings and every day “simple” life than most of the mainstream stuff that Hollywood gives us.  This film in particular is interesting to me for the way it showcases traditional versus modernity and for its cinematography.

When it comes to representing the traditional and the modern the film shows this in many ways; one way being the meaning of etiquette.  During the conversation at a small restaurant in the beginning between Koichi and 2 other women (I forgot who), Koichi says something like men shouldn’t just treat women but that men should be treated too.  Traditionally men had always paid for dinners but this time Koichi said the women should pay.

Next would be the change in clothing.  In the film all of the older women and two of Noriko’s friends wear traditional kimonos all the time and Aya wears it sometimes.  I never saw Noriko wear one and her nephews never wear the traditional clothing even though her father and uncle do.  Her brother tends to switch like Aya.  The fashion for weddings seems to be changing too or else Noriko wouldn’t have asked her friend if the bride was going to wear a kimono or gown.

Next to note would be the children’s behavior towards their elder.  They are very bratty disrespectful children.  I know kids will be kids but I thought in Japanese homes specifically, respecting your elder was big thing but I guess I was wrong or things really did change.

The biggest change obviously is the “rule” on marriage.  Traditional thinking people in the film believe that Noriko should be married by now because she’s 28.  They are pushing her to find not just any husband but a husband from a “good family”.  But Noriko as well as Aya believe that getting married shouldn’t be that important.  They feel like marriage is more like a trap because they wouldn’t be as free as they are now.  I believe Aya said something while she’s at Noriko’s house like “So and so couldn’t come because her husband is going on a business trip”.  She also comments on how not being married lets her go anywhere she wants.

I am not going to say I loved the cinematography because one big thing kept bothering me and no it was the breaking of the continuity system, it was that throughout the whole film except for maybe two times the director seemed to only take tatami shots or “knee length” shots.  I expected tatami shots at the dinner table, but once people started walking around or when people stood up, I expected eye-level shots.  It seems like no matter what, I always had to look to the top of the screen to see an adults face instead of straight ahead.  But from what I learned in class, I guess I should have expected that. I did like the frame within frame shots which were shot and mostly noticeable in the interior.  I liked them simply because they looked cool and added “layers” to the shot. I could only imagine how great they would look in color.

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Posted by cjenkins   @   21 October 2010

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Oct 21, 2010
12:09 pm
#1 abethon :

I really liked how you focused on the directors method of shots (tatami). I kept wondering this throughout the film. Often I find this technique used very rarely throughout movies in order to portray some sort of power in a specific character. However in this film it seemed to be extremely overused and didn’t seem to serve a purpose other than going against the norm.

Although I didn’t enjoy this film I agree with nearly everything you said and can understand why you find it interesting. Would you ever watch it again? Or did you feel it was one of those movies where once is enough?

Also another topic you bring up is the modernization of women. Such as the examples you use when Koichi says women should pay for dinner or the marriage situation. I wonder if this had to do with the rules that the U.S. was enforcing after the war, meant to empower women and show that equality between genders is necessary.

Oct 21, 2010
7:22 pm
#2 cjenkins :

Thanx and yea once is enough. I dont usually watch films more than once unless im REALLY bored or its for class or I havent seen it in a long time because I already know whats gonna happen so whats the point.

Oct 25, 2010
5:55 pm
#3 bdolan90 :

I’m starting to really like this sort of everyday people with real not especially interesting or crazy problems genre too, haha, it’s just a lot more relateable then most of what Hollywood gives us.

I agree about the kids being especially bratty and disrespectful (though super adorable! right?) and it seemed to be one thing that stood out to a lot of the class. This makes me think that this was meant to stand out, maybe to show that the way we just assume in Japanese culture that it is crucial to respect your elders, or to just do something entirely different and show people something they weren’t used to seeing, I’m not really sure but I feel it was meant to be noticed.

Oct 27, 2010
12:08 pm

Another good example of this genre is the Ozu’s domestic melodrama Tokyo Story. The mundane, seemingly uneventful story of Tokyo Story begins with an aging couple on their way from their village to visit their two married children in busy, post-war Tokyo. Their reception is disappointing with their children being too busy to entertain them. They send them off to a health spa by the water. Like they probably expected, they trouble their host, inevitably, they feel guilty, the children cut corners and neglect them. In the course of the trip, the old folks become aware of both the virtues and selfishness of their children. On the train ride home, the mother is suffering, and shortly thereafter, she dies. After The Mother falls ill she and the father return home, while the grieving children hasten to be with her only when it is too little too late.

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