Japan (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.

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