Sanma no aji

Color . 118 minutes

Shochiku Ofuna Studio

Written By

Ozu Yasujiro
Noda Kogo


Atsuta Yuharu

Music By

Satio Kojun


Iwashita Shima (Hirayama Michiko)
Ryu Chishu (Hirayama Shuhei)
Sata Kenji (Koichi)
Okada Mariko (Akiko)
Mikami Shinchiro (Kazo)
Yoshida Teruo (Miura Yutaka)
Maki Noriko (Taguchi Fusako)
Nakamura Nobuo (Kawai Shuzo)
Miyake Kuniko (Nobuko)
Tono Eijiro (Sakamoto, 'Gourd')
Sugimura Haruko (Tomoko)
Kato Daisuke (sakamoto Yoshitaro)
Kita Ryuji (Horie Shin)
Tamaki Miseyo (Tamako)
Kishida Kyoko (Bar Hostess)

Alarmed by the pathetic state of his old teacher's daughter - the young woman has sacrificed herself to take care of her father and now passed the age of marriage - the aging salaryman Hirayama realizes he must find his daughter Michiko a husband. His son Koichi understands that Michiko is fond of his colleague Mirua, but the young salaryman is already engaged. A desperate Hirayama turns to an old friend from school, who has previously proposed a candidate. After the wedding, Hirayama visits the bar that he has learned to frequent lately, one of the reasons being the proprietress resembles his dead wife.

Thoughts from co-writer Noda Kogo
In between making The End of Summer for Toho, Shochiku kept pushing Ozu to decide upon a name for the next feature. So it was decided that for the mean time, the new film will be entitled An Autumn Afternoon ("The Taste of Mackerel" in Japanese) but nothing has been confirmed or planned in detail. Yet we all had an unspoken understanding that one would see a mackerel on screen, but still sense the flavor of mackerel in the film. The time at which we wrote the script coincided with the conference of Japan's five major film companies which ruled that we could only deploy Ofuna staff or freelancers, and not borrow actors from other companies. In the end, we only borrowed Kato Daisuke from Toho. At the script development phase, Ozu's mother passed away. When Ozu returned to Tateshina after the funeral, he wrote this in his diary: "Spring has arrived. Cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Here I am agonizing over An Autumn Afternoon. Like torn rags, the cherry blossoms display a forlorn expression - sake tastes bitter as gall."


The 54th film, shot from August to November 1962.
In February 1962, during Ozu's and Noda's preparation of the next screenplay in the mountain resort Tateshina, Ozu's mother died at the age of 86. Ozu was very attached to his mother, more so because he remained a bachelor. He wrote the screenplay for An Autumn Afternoon with sorrow and loneliness in his heart. This was Ozu's first film for Shochiku in two years. The house of the protagonists is somewhere in the Tokyo suburbs, but the lifestyle depicted belongs to the "uptown" atmosphere Again, the daughter's marriage. However, Ozu and Noda did not necessarily approve of this subject. This was the time when the decline of film business began, and the companies could not permit a commercial failure in the only film that a major director made in one year. A young and beautiful actress was to be the core to ensure commercial success. The depiction of the surroundings permitted the adaptation to different social changes. In April of that year, the five big production companies (Shochiku, Toho, Toei, Daiei and Nikkatsu) agreed upon a strict ban of lending or borrowing actors and directors from each other's company. It was necessary to cast film film with Shochiku actors, and the daughter to get married is Iwashita Shima. The central human relationship is again the father-daughter relationship, mixed with the friendship of some middle-aged men (as in Late Autumn). However, new elements are introduced, such as the married son's contemporary life in a a housing development, and the former middle-school teacher's misery, giving this film a rather bitter taste. In the same way, the relationship between father and daughter is comparatively contemporary and relative, and this change also extends to the "uptown" lifestyle. The father does not only drink and chat frequently with his friends in a restaurant in Ginza, he also goes to a cheap bar with a suburban atmosphere where the proprietress reminds him of his late wife. In the last scene, the evening of the daughter's wedding, the father returns home drunk, after having been in that bar. On the way to the kitchen, he stops suddenly and gazes at the staircase leading to second floor, where his daughter had lived. In his imagination, the father goes upstairs and stands in front of the mirror. This is more vivid that in other films (Late Spring has the same construction), and different from the screenplay. It would have been interesting to see yet another Tokyo in Ozu's next time, but this film was to be his last.

Articles / Essays
An Autum Afternoon : Ozu's Private Family
by site contributor Doron B. Cohen (Kyoto)

An Autumn Afternoon : Ozu's Diaries
by Donald Richie (Criterion)
An Autumn Afternoon : A Fond Farewell
by Geoff Andrew (Criterion)

Personal Thoughts and Comments
An Autumn Afternoon is Ozu's final statement and in many ways one of his greatest films. Made in the year of his mothers death (whom he lived with his entire life), it is a deeply personal film of loneliness, and alcoholism and death. It's once again simplistic in approach and a film that reexamines many of his father-daughter themes used in previous films. It also contains moments that are inspirational and humorous. While it is true he was in the early stages for another film, An Autumn Afternoon seems the perfect final film for Ozu as he leaves his final marks on the quintessential style and themes of of his postwar work. As Ozu grew older his films became less and less focused on plot, but the emotional complexities always remain, and this is one of his richest emotional films. Ozu's final images beautifully summarize both the film and his career: A drunk Shuhei (played by Ozu's definitive actor Chishu Ryu) mumbles to himself "Now I'm all alone" before the film cuts to a series of interior shots of the isolated home (representing Shuhei's emotional feeling). Then the film concludes with the final Ozu image of Shuhei alone and pouring tea before sitting down, a truly unforgettable final image that flawlessly (and incredibly simplistically) portrays the emotions of loneliness and loss. It is rather fitting that his final film is one which examines the cycle of life. Ozu died a year after this film was made, but his life remains unforgettable.

Film Images

"Pillow Shots"
The final moments from An Autumn Afternoon
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