Black and White . 124 minutes

Shochiku Ofuna Studio

Written By

Ozu Yasujiro
Noda Kogo


Atsuta Yuharu

Music By

Ito Senji


Hara Setsuko (Noriko)
Ryu Chishu (Koichi)
Awajima Chikage (Tamura Aya)
Miyake Kuniko (Fumiko)
Sugai Ichiro (Shukichi)
Higashiyama Chieko (Shige)
Sugimura Haruko (Yabe Tami)
Nimoto Ryukan (Yabe Kenkichi)
Murase Zen (Minoru)
Shirosawa Isao (Isamu)
Sano Shuji (Satake Sotaro)

At a family gathering, Mamiya Noriko's boss prepossess a prospective marriage candidate to her. Her parents announce their wish to retire to the countryside and are keen for her to marry. One day, Noriko goes to visit her neighbor Yabe, who was the best friend of Noriko's brother before he was killed in action. Yabe, who works under Noriko's other brother Koichi, is soon to be transferred to Akita. Yabe's mother entreats Noriko to marry Yabe, and impulsively she agrees. Her family is shocked and totally against her marrying a widower, with a small child, a modest income and an outpost job. However, eventually, they accept the inevitable.

Thoughts from Ozu
I wanted to describe such deep matters as reincarnation and mutability, more than just telling a story. For this reason, Early Summer was one of the most demanding work I've done in years. There was criticism about the children being unruly. In my view, children and adults have different "rules". When they grow up, they too will change. As for acting, it's best to leave things unexpressed, something to ponder or savour. Those who appreciate this have themselves reached a transcendent state. Hara Setsuko is a fine person. If only there were four or five more such persons.


he 44th film, shot from June to September 1951. The film was made at Ozu's homebase, the Shochiku Ofuna studio. At first sight, Early Summer seems to be related to Late Spring. In fact there are many common points. The titles indicate seasons, and the films depict home dramas, set in Kamakura, with its traditional images, a feeling of security in the vicinity of Tokyo (as its replacement). Also, the plots develop around the daughter's marriage. At the end, the family disperses. Moreover, the leading actress in both films is Hara Setsuko. However, apart from the apparent plot, its hidden main themes form the essence of Early Summer, which is completely different from Late Spring, in contrast to the visible similarities. A family three generations living under the same roof is unusual in Ozu's films. In the beginning, the film depicts details in the everyday life of the family members, and conceals the lack of a family member. Only after the plot develops, and only by the intervention of an outsider (Kankichi's mother) the existence/absence of the son Shoji (who probably died at war) is reported Shoji does not appear at all on the screen, but his part is important. Ozu said that he wanted to show the transmigration of the soul, and transience in this film. Noda remembered: "In my reflections, Noriko certainly is the heroine. I wanted to depict the whole family with her at the center. Also the old couple was young once. Ryu Chishu and Miyake Kuniko represent their youth. Will today's children live a time like theres? This kind of transmigration should be felt almost aimlessly. The last sequence is a bride's procession in a wheat harvest of Japan. The old couple who witness the scene think of their daughter Noriko who recently got married, with their son Shoji as go-between. Shoji, who was killed at war, is symbolized by an ear of wheat. Death brings about the birth of new life. This is rinne, the transmigration of the soul, and not limited to the Mamiya family. The ears of wheat are innumerable, and this wheat field seems to be filled with souls of many soldiers. Their death is linked to a new life. The last shot shows a funeral procession, the music changes to a minor key and becomes a funeral march. This is not a film by the citizen Noda Kogo, who never went to the front, but by the former solider Ozu Yasujiro, who participated also in the battle Suchow (Joshu). The house in Kamakura in Early Summer is a "Japanese house"and even "the house of the Japanese".

Articles / Essays
Early Summer : Poetry in Motion
by site contributor Doron B. Cohen (Kyoto)

Early Summer
by David Bordwell (Criterion)

Personal Thoughts and Comments
With Early Summer, Ozu uses a common theme of a young middle-class woman who rebels against her parents by choosing her own husband. Once again Setsuko Hara is radiant and Ozu's simplistic approach
is breathtaking. Here Ozu again flawlessly works with composition, as well as ensemble in observing the details of everyday living and family. Even for it simplicity Early Summer is endlessly complex and emotional in examining the lives of three generations of family. Ultimately Early Summer is a film of separation. It is beautiful and moving right up to it's final sad and bittersweet moments as the camera moves away from the village (with a rare Ozu tracking shot which works with the opening shot of waves to represent the change and the cycle of life). This film holds a special place to me personally as it was the first Ozu film I ever saw. Early Summer remains among my favorite Ozu films and this belongs mention in the class of his greatest postwar masterworks (Late Spring, Tokyo Twilight, Tokyo Story, Equinox Flower, An Autumn Afternoon).

Film Images

"Pillow Shots"
A clip from Early Summer
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