Black and White . 144 minutes

Shochiku Ofuna Studio

Written By
Ozu Yasujiro
Noda Kogo


Atsuta Yuharu

Music By

Satio Kojun


Awajima Chikage (Sugiyama Masako)
Ikebe Ryo (Shoji)
Kishi Keiko (Kaneko Chiyo)
Takahashi Teiji (Aoki Taizo)
Ryu Chishu (Onodera Kiichi)
Yamamura So (Kawai Yutaka)
Sugimura Haruko (Tamako)
Fujino Takako (Aoki Terumi) 
Taura Masami (Kitagawa Koichi)
Urabe Kumeko (Kitagawa Shige)
Miyake Kuniko (Kawai Yukiko)


During a hike with commuter-friends, a romantic spark grows between Shoji and Kaneko, nicknamed "Goldfish" for her big eyes. They have an affair and Shoji becomes more and more estranged from his wife Masako. When he forgets the anniversary of their deceased child, she is deeply hurt. They row over him bringing home rowdy war comrades and his suspected infidelity. When Kaneko turns up at their doorstep, Masako leaves home. Following the death of a co-worker, Shoji is transferred to Okayama. Before he takes off, Shoji visits a former superior Onodera. Soon afterwards, Masako joins him at the advice of Onodera and they promise to start afresh.

Thoughts from Ozu
It had been a while since I dealt with the salaryman, I wanted to have a go at representing their lifestyle. The thrill and aspirations one feels as a fresh graduate entering society gradually wane as the days go by. Even working diligently for 30 years doesn't amount to much. I tried to portray the pathos of the salaryman's life as society undergoes transformation. Screening time was the longest among my postwar films. I tried to avoid anything dramatic, and instead piled up scenes where nothing at all happens, so as to let audience feel the sadness of their existence.

he 47th film, shot from August to December 1955. There is an interval of more than two years since Tokyo Story. As executive of the Film Director's Association of Japan, Ozu was busy solving the problems concerning The Moon Has Risen (Tsuki wa noborinu) in 1954. He had written this scenario in 1947 together with Saito Ryusuke, but its filming was postponed. The Film Director's Association wanted to raise funds. They paid Ozu for his scenario. The actress Tanaka Kinuyo was to direct it (her second film after Love Letter/Koibumi, 1953), and production was taken over by the Nikkatsu studios. Ozu convinced the reluctant Tanaka and re-wrote the scenario together with Saito and Noda Kogo. However, Shochiku, Toho, Daiei, Shintoho, and Toei, the members of the "five-company-agreement against Nikkatsu" (which was made in the previous year to protect the market against the new rival), opposed this plan, and things got into a muddle. In August of 1954, Ozu, who was working with Noda on the scenario for Early Spring in Noda's mountain villa in Tateshine, had to return quickly to straighten out the problems. Therefore, the completion of the screenplay for Early Spring was postponed. In April 1952, Ozu had moved to Kita-Kamakura with his mother, and also his sister lived with them in the beginning. Noda Kogo had lived in Kamakura-Jomyoji since pre-war times. Usually Ozu attached great importance to the living conditions of his protagonists, and his own change of residence was an extremely important point in his life. Its first reflection appears in Early Spring. The story was influenced by a group of young people who often came to Noda's house, but there was no direct model for the film. The house of the protagonists is not in Kamakura, but in Tokyo's suburbs. This is not uptowan, but neither is it shitamachi or the suburbs. This choice hints at Ozu's feeling, that in post-war Tokyo, the distinct features of the different parts of town were lost, the separation from Tokyo or from (the quasi-Tokyo) Kamakura to the countryside is self-punishment, and is forgiven because of his apartment. The introduction of the sick fellow worker stresses Tokyo's conceptual metaphor, the contrast of Tokyo and "outside". For the first time, characters with a strong individuality are added, enlarging the details. This corresponds to the weakening of Tokyo's concreteness in Ozu's work.

Articles / Essays
Early Spring : The Portrait of a Couple and a Generation
by site contributor Doron B. Cohen (Kyoto)

Personal Thoughts and Comments
Following a short hiatus, Early Spring is the first film Ozu made after his acclaimed 1953 Tokyo Story. Here Ozu is mostly examining the life of one man, and his job and marriage. Different from traditional Ozu, the man is a working class man (recalling his characteristically complex Kihachi films during Ozu's silent era). Above all Ozu sympathetically observes the value of life and this working man's search for meaning. Early Spring certainly rates among his most expression social statements of the Japanese work life and the focus seems to be on the younger generation of Japanese society. A generation of rebelliousness and transition into a more Westernized Japanese world. Maybe not among his very greatest masterworks, Early Spring remains a deeply detailed film and among Ozu's emotionally darkest work.

Film Images

"Pillow Shots"
Opening moments from Early Spring
dvd (R1)   (R3)