Early Summer (1951)

I noticed that this movie was about… about pretty much nothing. It felt like a look into a normal family and their life. But of course, as we have read, during this time Japanese filmmakers had been limited substantially.

Watching this movie was quite a different experience; it felt somewhat uniform throughout. Yasujiro Ozu’s style was very obvious and “in-your-face” during the entire film. By this I mean his constantly repeated elements. He plays with depth of field so much you would think that was the only way he knew how to frame the shot. Also, a way he does this is with unimportant, unfocused objects in the foreground to the side(s) of the frame with the focus on a more distant entity. Moreover, he uses the same exact shots repeatedly, in separate scenes and occasions throughout the film where the only changing variable is the character(s). This is an example of what I’m talking about:

I’ve been here so much I know where everything is and I feel like I live here. All jokes aside, I actually enjoyed that because it familiarizes the viewer. The audience would say, “Oh, I’ve been here before” and they would know exactly where they are.

I definitely got the feeling that Ozu put a large emphasis on his actors. In addition to his depth of field, Ozu’s camera was virtually stationary throughout the whole film. The camera would only move a couple of times in the two hour span. I think Ozu wanted the viewer to focus more in the frame, rather than having eyes wander. Because of a stationary frame, the viewer, or I, rather, would pay attention more on what was going on, or on the movement. The characters are almost always the focus of the frame and the viewer has no choice but to focus on the dialogue and the body language.

Not only this, but Ozu constantly uses medium-close ups of his characters all of the same nature:

The film is littered with these MC shots of characters all with about the same distance and composition.

Something I liked about this film was that it was eclectic in a sense. I mean that at different times, it would be funny, giddy, serious, depressing, or hostile. All these feelings incorporated into one film was intriguing to me, and I wouldn’t even realize the story was building to these things; it just suddenly happened.

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5 Responses to “Early Summer (1951)”

  1. Natalie Bernabe Says:

    I like your comment about the fact that the way Ozu uses repetitive shots, especially those of the house, help us to familiarize with the characters and their lifestyle. Seriously, at the end when the parents are in Yamato with the Bakushu (which I believe is the early wheat season or something, wheat singifying the title, Early summer) I was like “This isn’t the house?!” I was so confused for the better half of that scene!

  2. Amy Herzog Says:

    This is very perceptive– we really do feel like we know every corner in that house, and feel such a range of emotions alongside the family, even though the events that unfold seem so ordinary. As difficult as this might be for some viewers to get used to, it’s really a remarkable way to tell a story.

  3. Erickson Bryan Says:

    I agree with Natalie I like how you state your observations of repetition. I also feel that the majority of films we watch shows us repetition. Repetition as we learn this year just really explains to us that it will be or is very important and has a meaning behind its appearance. I also like that you mention that this film has brought out so many emotions out of the viewer and I also experienced many feelings. Good job and your analysis are always on point.

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