12 December 2011 | SnakesOnAnAfricanPlain
Early Spring (1956)
Early Spring came between Ozu's incredible masterpieces Tokyo Story and Tokyo Twilight. No surprise then, that it kind of falls flat in places. It's by no means a bad film, but it adds a bit too much complexity, making the focus confusing at points. The film starts as a comment on the salary man. The opening scenes are both funny and sad, as we see the empty streets of Japan gradually fill with men and women in white shirts. They all come together at the subway station, and then we see two men in an office building looking down at the madness below. These are the kind of details one must love about Ozu. It is all represented there on the screen, and without many words we know what is going on. As the film continues we see the workers on their breaks and finally arranging a weekend trip. On this trip is where the real story begins. A young married man named Shoji is attracted to a young girl nicknamed "Goldfish". They are unable to hide their attraction, as their colleagues start spreading rumors and noticing the smiles between the two. Eventually they give into their temptation. It's the effects after this betrayal that are the key focus. The young girl is surprised that she develops emotions, while Shoji is instantly ashamed of himself. His guilt soon grows, and he avoids his wife. Because of this his wife begins to suspect he is cheating on her. The film shows how destructive guilt can be. As Shoji tries to keep his mind off the affair, he ends up forgetting the anniversary of his son's death. The film is too long for its material. There simply isn't enough going on in the middle, and too much at the beginning and end. What it does offer is Ozu's look at relationships without the arrangement of a marriage. Instead, this shows the hard work and commitment a marriage takes. A theme that was handled a lot more competently and economically in his next feature.