Thursday, January 25, 2007


In a recent magazine article (in "Kangaeru Hito" ("The Thinker"), a quarterly published from Shinchosha, Tokyo), Yasujiro Ozu is quoted as saying thus.

My theme is "mono no aware" (the pathos of things), which is very Japanese. Since I am depicting the Japanese people in the films, this should be fine.

From the modern point of view, "Mono no aware" is nothing but the contingent occurrences in life. Things are not certain. Very important and life-transforming things can originate from seemingly irrelevant and unexpected incidents.

In the great "Noriko trilogy" (Tokyo Story, Late Spring, and Early Summer), important events in life are influenced by seemingly trivial things.

In Early Summer, Noriko (played by Setsuko Hara) is persuaded to marry a widower doctor by his mother (played by Haruko Sugimura). The couple is secretly attracted to each other, but had it not for the "agony aunt" type intrusion by the eager mother, their love would never have materialized. A beautiful ending has bloomed from a behavior on the verge of a bad taste.
It is this kind of subtle observations of life's moments of truth that make the Ozu films all time masterpieces.

The "persuasion" scene from "Early Summer"

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