Color . 119 minutes

Deiei Tokyo Studio

Written By

Ozu Yasujiro
Noda Kogo


Miyagawa Kazuo

Music By

Satio Kojun


Nakamura Ganjiro (Arashi Komajuro)
Kyo Machiko (Sumiko)
Wakao Ayako (Kayo)
Kawaguchi Hiroshi (Homma Kiyoshi)
Sugimura Haruko (Oyoshi)
Nozoe Hitomi (Aiko)
Ryu Chishu (Theater Owner)
Koji (Hideo)
Mitsui (Kichinosuke)
Tanaka Haruo (Yatazo)
Irie Yosuke (Sugiyama)
Hoshi Hikaru (Kimura)
Ushio Mantaro (Sentaro)
Urabe Kumeko (Shige)

A kabuki troupe led by Komajuro Arashi comes to a seaside town. He goes to see Oyoshi, a former lover with whom he fathered a son, Kiyoshi, Komajuro pretends to be Kiyoshi's uncle and strikes up a friendship with him. Due to bad weather, few come to see the kabuki and the troupe is faced with disbanding. Oyoshi tentatively asks Komajuro to stay, but his current mistress Sumiko finds out and to get back at him, she pays a young performer, Kayo, to seduce Kiyoshi. However the couple falls in love and decides to get married. Komajuro tries to intervene but when Kiyoshi finds out who he really is, he spurns him. Dejected, Komajuro leaves with Sumiko.

Thoughts from Ozu
The theme is a melancholy one, with the sensibility of a bygone era. Although the setting is in the present, it evokes the purity and spirit of antiquity of the Meiji era. Some might propose that the stage be bet simply in the Meiji era, but I didn't think it was necessary. Turning this into a period piece required an exhaustive amount of historical research. Instead, this film became an experiment in how to give life an old fashioned story in a modern setting. The cinematographer Miyagawa Kazuo went to great pains to achieve this. I finally got the hang of filming in color. Different colors require varying degrees of lighting: colors not visible to the eye appear different after the film is projected on film... it was only then that I got to grips with these. In addition, cinemascope was becoming more and more common, and while I had no intention of using it, I consciously changed my filming style to counter the wide screen. Of course, rather than happening all at once, the change took place step by step, barely noticeable to myself. For instance, there were more close-ups and cuts became more minutely detailed. In fact, my recent works may boast the greatest number of shots in Japanese cinema.


he 51st film, shot September to November 1959. It has often been supposed that Ozu made this film for Daiei in exchange for the actress Yamamoto Fujiko, whom he had cast in Equinox Flower. However, Daiei reciprocated with the actress Arima. Actually, Ozu wanted to fulfill a promise he had made to director Mizoguchi Kenji, who had died three years ago. (In his late years, Mizoguchi was an executive at Daiei.) This film is a remake of the pre-war A Story of Floating Weeds. Ozu wanted to make this film already in 1958, using the title A Poor Actor (Daikon yakusha), but the production was interrupted because of scenarios of snow in the Niigate region. The season was changed from winter to summer, and the location to Wakayama region. The title had to be changed too, since the main character was played by an important kabuki actor from the Kansai region, Nakamura Ganjiro (he had left the stage temporarily to make films for Daiei), and the projected title was too much an insult. This is not only a film produced by Daiei, almost all the actors belonged to Daiei too. Therefore the cast for the Shochiku production A Poor Actor changed considerably. Shindo Eitaro was to be Arashi Komajuro, Sumiko was Yamada Isuzu, and Kiyoshi was Taura Masami. Shindo belonged to Toei, but Yamada, Arima and Taura all appeared in the previous Tokyo Twilight, maybe to make up for this unsatisfactory film. However, A Poor Actor was interrupted. The following Equinox Flower has yet another importance in Ozu's work. The screenplay remained unchanged (the play in the film changed from Chuji Kunisada to a woman's swordplay), but there should be considerable difference, due to the character of Nakamura Ganjiro and the gorgeous Kyo Machiko, and also due to the bright summer climate of the Wakayam region. The melancholy that always accompanied wandering far from Tokyo almost disappeared in this film. Tokyo's centripetal force weakened considerably, maybe also due to the change of Ozu's own places of action. The cameraman Miyagawa Kazuo, who was in charge of all films that Mizoguchi Kenji made after the war for Daiei, often talked with Ozu about the technique of color photography, and Ozu learned a lot. In Good Morning, Ozu seemed to play with color, but Floating Weeds is unified in quiet color tones, but still persistent in the red. One shot shows the lighthouse on the beach, seen from the boat, in a slow movement. This is the only traveling shot in Ozu's color films.

Articles / Essays
Stories of Floating Weeds
by Donald Richie (Criterion)

Personal Thoughts and Comments
By 1959 Ozu had converted to making color films, but he refused to fall into the conventions of CinemaScope. Ozu preferred his rare and simplistic filmmaking style. However, with Floating Weeds he did get the legendary Japanese cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa (most known for his work with the great Kenji Mizoguchi) to photograph the film. It remains one of the only post-war films not be shot by Yuuharu Atsuta and also one of the few color films in which the camera moves. Visually the film is stunning and breathtakingly rich and detailed. Floating Weeds is a remake of Ozu's 1934 silent film A Story of Floating Weeds. While the storyline is alike, the biggest difference between the film lies in the tone. Both films handle the melodrama in different ways. Floating Weeds is a compassionate at times visually masterful film. Not everything works here but there are some moments of humor and subtle poetry.

Film Images

"Pillow Shots"
Opening moments from Floating Weeds
dvd (R1)    (R2)