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Japanese Divas

Thursday, July 21, 2011
7:00 p.m. Late Spring
Yasujiro Ozu (Japan, 1949)

(Banshun). Chishu Ryu, who appears in minor roles in most of Ozu’s earlier films, took his place in the later films as the director’s persona, with Setsuko Hara perhaps the feminine counterpart. In Late Spring, a widowed father believes that his daughter spurns marriage in order to remain with him. He allows her to think that he plans to remarry, though he has no intention of doing so, and she finally accepts an offer of marriage herself. The hint of a smile on Ryu’s face as he hears the bell of the shoji door (his daughter, as always) opens the viewer to the full emotional force of the narrative machinations just set in motion. Their farewell trip to Kyoto must be counted among Ozu’s most moving sequences, and the film itself, among his most beloved, a subtly disturbing portrayal of the trap that is love.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Ozu, Kogo Noda. Photographed by Yuharu Atsuta. With Chishu Ryu, Setsuko Hara, Yumeji Tsukioka, Haruko Sugimura. (107 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From Janus Films/Criterion Collection)