Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Pointing at the Screen

by Steven Boone

Yasujiro Ozu's Late Spring (1949) is a masterpiece of love, time, life and death, but it's hard to capture in words. Roger Ebert found a way to describe some of the finer qualities and themes coursing through this portrait of a father and daughter learning to let each other go, but I'm stuck pointing at the screen, going, "Look at that! Did you see that?" Ozu's images just outrun my words.

So I gathered some of those images into a montage (see below). You might call it a visual critique, but I have only praise for Late Spring, which sensitizes a viewer to such a degree that I'm almost sorry for seeing the tougher, bleaker Tokyo Story (1953) first. The former points shyly, sadly, to the latter. And both films are testaments to the beauty of Setsuko Hara, whose smile deserved it's own movie. (Actually, Late Spring kind of is that movie.)

But enough with the words. Take a look at how Ozu uses a mostly static camera with one lens to show you what happens when real love has a silent fight with time, society and death.

Song: "4am At Toumani's" from the album Mali Music by Damon Albarn and various Malian musicans.