Internet Weekly Report - Movie Review

Yasujiro Ozu's Floating Weeds (1959)

Most people are familiar with the work of the great Japanese movie director Akira Kurosawa, but not everyone is as familiar with the wonderful work of Yasujiro Ozu. 

Ozu's films are very understated and almost seem like documentaries of real family life in Japan.  His camera angels are low and static.  It's as if you are watching the characters with a secret security camera, but the scenes themselves are composed almost like living wood block prints with sub-frames and lots of movement by the cast moving about in the shot.

Floating Weeds (Ukigusa, 1959), which he made with the great cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa of Rashomon and Ugetsu fame, is a remake of Ozu's silent movie (1934), and is the fourth movie by Ozu that I have seen. It is only a handful of his films in color so it is very special indeed, which is why  I think this movie would make a great introduction to Ozu. The first three movies I saw were in black and white and part of the Noriko Trilogy: Late Spring (1949), Early Summer (1951) and Ozo's masterpiece Tokyo Story (1953) all starring the delightful actress Setsuko Hara as the eternal virgin Noriko

Floating Weeds Movie Poster Scene From Floating Weeds

In Floating Weeds Ozu's color composition is simply beautiful.  Each scene is like a work of art, with the meticulous placement of actors and objects such sake bottles, flowers and red teapots.  As Roger Ebert (Here's Ebert's review.) pointed out in the Criterion commentary, the frames of this movie would make great photographs to hang on the wall.  Here are some screen captures 1 and 2. BTW, the background music reminded me of a Fellini movie.

The story involves a traveling kabuki theater troupe whose aging star (Komajuro) is returning to the family he has not seen for the last 12 years.  His son thinks Komajuro is his uncle and that his father died long ago. 

When Komajuro's mistress, played by Michiko Kyo (She was also in Rashomon and Ugetsu.) finds out about his secret family, she gets cheesed big time and bribes one of the young girls in her troupe to seduce Komajuro's son to get back at the old Master.

Like all Ozu movies, his characters are very human and accessible, making you feel like you were neighbor or visitor.  When the movie is over, you feel closer to life or just living in the moment and more relaxed instead feeling like you have just been rung the emotional ringer.

I rate it 10!!!!

BTW, here are some trailers I found on YouTube to give you a feel for Ozu's work.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find the Floating Weeds trailer.

Trailer "Dernier Caprice" - Yasujiro Ozu

A scene from Late Autumn (1960)

A scene from Equinox Flower (1958)

A scene from Tokyo Story (1953)

A scene from Early Summer (1951)

A scene from Late Spring (1949)

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Internet Weekly Report First Issued on 12/15/2001,
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Last Updated Sunday, 18. March 2007 22:26:53.

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