Black and White . 108 minutes

Shochiku Ofuna Studio

Written By

Ozu Yasujiro
Noda Kogo
Hirotsu Kazuo (short novel)


Atsuta Yuharu

Music By

Ito Senji


Ryu Chishu (Somiya Shukichi)
Hara Setsuko (Noriko)
Tsukioka Yumeji (Kitagawa Aya)
Sugimura Haruko (Taguchi Masa)
Aoki Hohi (Katsuyochi)
Usami Jun (Hattori Shoichi)
Miyake Kuniko (Miwa Akiko)
Mishima Masao (Onodera Jo)
Tsubouchi (Kiku)

Noriko has reached a suitable age for marriage but she is content to carry on looking after her father Professor Somiya in their Kitakamakura home. While her aunt Masa busies herself looking for a suitable match, Somiya for a while suspects she is dating his student Hattori. When it transpires that Hattori is engaged to someone else, Somiya conspires with Masa to trick Noriko into thinking that he has decided to re-marry. Appalled, she runs away to stay with her friend Aya. Eventually, she goes on an arranged date with someone who "looks like Gary Cooper" and agrees to marry him. Father and daughter go on one last holiday to Kyoto.

Thoughts from Ozu
Late Spring provided a chance for me to collaborate with Noda Kogo. Not since An Innocent Maid did such an opportunity present itself. If the director and the scriptwriter are always at odds with each, their work relationship is bound to collapse at some point. Say if one were an early to bed, early to rise type, while the other happened to be a night bird, they'd never strike the right balance, and would just let each other down. Whatever Noda, Saito and I did were in sync, even down to when we chose to take a break or have a drink. This was very important as Noda and I tended to think through every line or dialogue together when we wrote the script. Even without discussing details on props or costumes, there was an unspoken rapport between us. There was never a problem of disagreement, even when deciding to use an "oh" or an "ah" (wa or yo) in the dialogue. It was incredible. Naturally, there were times when we clung to our own opinions. After all, we were both rather stubborn and wouldn't compromise so easily.


he 42nd film shot from May to September 1949. This is the first film of the long-lasting team of Ozu/Noda Late Spring deserves special attention even among Ozu's other films, since it formed the basis of all his later films. The original story is a short novel by Hirotsu Kazuo, Father and Daughter (Chichi to musume), published ten years earlier. Ozu and Noda adapted the plot development. However, Hirotsu's novel, the saying "A white lie is sometimes expedient" turns into "A Life finally becomes truth," the father getting married in an unexpected denouement. Ozu and Noda shunned such a witty development. and concentrated, even persisted on the relation between father and daughter, with the lonesome father in the last scene. Therefore, the characters of the protagonists and the placing of the situations differ completely from Hirotsu's novel. This situation of a daughter's marriage and the separation from her parents becomes the most important motif in Ozu's filmic development. His attention switched here from the son to the father. Father and daughter live in a a house in Kamakura. The ancient capital Kamakura preserves independent cultural traditions and appearances. Moreover, it spatially belongs to the surrounding of Tokyo. The father works as a university teacher in Tokyo, and also the daughter often goes downtown. Kamakura can be considered as shelter for cultural refugees from the devastated post-war Tokyo. The setting of Late Spring is extremely important, since it cured Ozu's feeling of loss. Against an intentionally emphasized Japanese background made by kimonos, tea ceremonies, and Noh plays, properties due to the American occupation, such as English signs and Coca-Cola boards, activate the screen. Doubtlessly, the appearance of the actress Hara Setsuko had left a decisive impact on this film. The strong feelings of father and daughter, which dominate the film, and the hidden Elektra complex obtained reality and persuasive power by this mysterious, introverted actress. Ozu and Noda sent the screenplay of this film to the writer Satomi Ton and asked him for advice. Ozu was an admirer of Satomi since his middle-school days. After having seen Late Spring, Satomi considered the last scene (after his daughter's marriage, the father returns home alone and, on the verge of tears, peels and apple) as too much contrived, as art for art sake's, appealing to common tastes. This critique caused Ozu to reflect on himself.

Articles / Essays
Late Spring : Home With Ozu
by Michael Atkinson (Criterion)

Noriko Smiling
by Adam Mars-Jones

Personal Thoughts and Comments
In many ways Late Spring represents the definitive film of Ozu's master filmmaking approach and language. Through simplicity Ozu captures depths and possibilities of endless beauty and heartbreaking sadness. The emotions and humanity captured here are really not so simplistic, but rather complex and even spiritual on some levels. Late Spring is a glorious cinematic achievement and like all Ozu's work has such an authentic and universal connection with the audience. We witness incredibly ordinary humans doing ordinary routines of living as well as facing the everyday dramas or complexities of life. Ozu's use of camera framing, technique, and space is truly rare. Here he presents the central relationship (a father and his daughter) with direct shots, which capture an intimate bound with the characters and with the audience but Ozu also keeps us at a distance almost as if to capture the character and thier emotions within the environment. Ultimately, this is a film of family, separation, and love. At the center of Late Spring is the pressure of marriage. Ozu presents this pressure of marriage in a variety of possibilities and options through the characters of the film (re-marriage, arranged marriage, divorce). Late Spring also represents a post-war Japanese society and Ozu underscores the film with this feeling of a Japanese society under transition, but he does so only in the slightest of ways. This transitional feeling is also captured between the relationship of the father and daughter, which sees a change as the film progresses and this pressure arises. Where as they share a warm and loving relationship earlier in the film, later they reveal that their true feelings are being hidden or masked and they eventually decide to conform to what they believe is required for the progress of society. Of course this is all expressed so masterfully through the incredible performances of Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara. Two of Ozu's quintessential post-war actors, Ryu and Hara are able to capture the deepest emotions in the very smallest gestures. The final images are among the most heartbreaking you'll see, as we view the father alone and though he is happy for his daughter he realizes he will die alone (the expression of the scene is shown not only through Ryu's performance, but also Ozu's visual of the pear pealing and Senji Ito's score). Late Spring is truly a powerfully moving and touching experience. The imagery and emotions I get watching this film is an unforgettably powerful one, and a feeling I hope to always cherish. Gracefully made with a breathtaking personal and artistic vision from a master. Late Spring is the definitive Ozu film of his post-war work in terms of style and themes. To me it is his greatest achievement and quite possibly one of the most perfect films ever made!.

Film Images

"Pillow Shots"
Noh play scene from Late Spring
Late Spring "Pillow Shots" Music Video
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