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Japan, 1934 (MIFF 1979, Missed Masterpieces)

Director: Yasujiro Ozu

Out of the fifty-odd films of the great Japanese director, Yasujiro Ozu, about twenty are lost to us today. Throughout his career, Ozu repeated certain plots and dramatic situations many times; A Story of Floating Weeds, one of his favourites, was remade 25 years later as Floating Weeds.

An ageing actor returns with his troupe to a remote island town to visit his mistress and their son, who is unaware that the actor is his father. The troupe's leading lady is the actor's lover, and is infuriated with the sudden appearance of the past mistress as a rival. She pays a girl to seduce the son, but the two fall in love and run away.

When they return, the father accuses the boy of deserting his mother, and in the course of argument it is revealed that the actor is his father. The boy rejects him, but the girl brings him around to a tentative acceptance of reality.

Only recently have Ozu's earlier films from the thirties and forties been re-evaluated. Noel Burch has praised their "strict formalisation ... leading to the unparalleled beauty of the later thirties and early forties", while some critics have come to regard Ozu's work as a forerunner of a modern radical cinema that disturbs the conventions of the predominant Hollywood film.

See also...


The late Yasujiro Ozus last work An Autumn Afternoon shows his method at its most completely formal. A gentle story about a widower's decision to marry off his only daughter; the director turns a ... More »


"In its exquisite refinement of Ozu's style and themes, and its general air of nostalgia and loss, An Autumn Afternoon does in fact feel like a summation of his career." - Criterion ... Hirayama (Ozu ... More »


In 1947, Visconti went to Sicily with a small amount of capital advanced by the Communist Party, to make a film that expanded into a mammoth epic on the conditions of the poor workers and peasants of ... More »


As with The Pied Piper which Jacques Demy made in 1971, Peau d'ane is an attempt to bring a fairytale narrative to the screen in as faithful a way to the original as possible, yet subtly ... More »


Robert Bresson's account of the Joan of Arc story, although austere and elliptical as are all his films, remains very close to the written records of the trial held in 1431. ... The film begins ... More »


Luchino Visconti's first film was based on James Cain's thriller 'The Postman Always Rings Twice', which was also made into a French film in 1939, and was turned into the celebrated Hollywood movie ... More »

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