Early Summer DVD+Blu-ray
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Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
Produced in 1951
Main Language - Japanese with English subtitles
If you don’t know the cinema of Yasujiro Ozu, Early Summer is a great place to start, says Mike Bartlett. It’s like a ‘best-of’ compilation, showcasing all the prime elements of his work.
If you're unfamiliar with the films of Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, Early Summer is a great place to start. It's like a 'best of' album, featuring the boisterous comedy of his early silents, the social comment on post-War Japan of his middle period, and the calm reflection on life found in his later work.
A light, bittersweet tale of generational conflict, it shows the various problems besetting the Mamiya family, particularly the issue of whom the eldest daughter, Noriko, is going to marry. But each family member's concerns are treated with equal weight and understanding, so that a boy's enthusiasm for his model railway receives as much screen time as his grandfather's meditation by the real train tracks later on.
Unlike much contemporary drama, it's sympathetic to the family unit while recognising the pressures within. The only film comparable to it now would be Koreeda Hirokazu's Still Walking, which this film clearly influenced. Early Summer is also funny, wise and formally ambitious – Ozu precisely.
The disc contains a fabulous extra – What Did The Lady Forget?, a surprisingly light and witty comedy of manners. It's a 'worm turns' story in which an easy-going doctor is encouraged by his mischievous niece to assert his authority over a harridan of a wife. Don't expect political correctness, but do expect sly social satire, a gloriously relaxed attitude towards drinking and geisha girls, and superb ensemble playing from Ozu's usual repertory company.
Early Summer, the second film in the 'Noriko trilogy', sees family, friends and colleagues pressure Noriko to marry, provoking a surprising decision with wide-reaching consequences.
A wonderfully poised ensemble work, Early Summer presents the intricacies and contradictions of three generations who have lived through the end of one era and are looking towards the new. Noriko is once again played with enigmatic brilliance by Setsuko Hara (Tokyo Story, Late Spring).
Also includes What Did the Lady Forget?, Ozu's pre-war comic classic.
Length: 125 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Cat No: BFIB1069
Format: DVD+Blu-ray B&W
- 2 disc combo pack with DVD & Blu-ray
- Standard Definition and High Definition presentations of Early Summer (DVD & Blu-ray)
- Ozu’s rare early What Did the Lady Forget? (1937, 73 mins, DVD only)
- Fully illustrated booklet with newly commissioned essay by Michael Atkinson, director biography by Tony Rayns as well as Chishu Ryu on working with Ozu
- New and improved English subtitles.