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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great extras, decent transfer.
The extras on this disc are fabulous. TOKYO-GA, in particular, is fantastic. It's fascinating to see what Chishu Ryu looked like in his old age, and a real eye-opener to learn that he was almost the same age as Setsuko Hara when they were making pictures together, considering he was most often playing her father. Criterion has done a wonderful job with the bonus features...
Published on October 2, 2006 by Michael Thorner

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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good And Long (And Slow)
Film = three stars; restoration = barely three stars. This movie can be an acquired taste, but the viewer must be extremely patient during the acquisition process! Overly long due to interior/exterior visual padding and foot-dragging direction, it nonetheless exhibits: some fine acting from many contemporaneously well-known actors and actresses; a well constructed...
Published 6 months ago by William F. Flanigan Jr.


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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great extras, decent transfer., October 2, 2006
By 
Michael Thorner (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
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The extras on this disc are fabulous. TOKYO-GA, in particular, is fantastic. It's fascinating to see what Chishu Ryu looked like in his old age, and a real eye-opener to learn that he was almost the same age as Setsuko Hara when they were making pictures together, considering he was most often playing her father. Criterion has done a wonderful job with the bonus features and package design, as per usual. I would have given it a 5 star rating, but for one issue. My biggest complaint (and unfortunately, it IS a complaint), is with the print source quality. One of the reels has a white vertical emulsion scratch running through its entirety; the one with the famous shot of Setsuko Hara riding a bicycle with a male friend, passing a Coca-Cola sign at the side of the road. Only four years after the end of WWII, the Coke sign served as a reminder to the viewer that Japan was still occupied by the Americans, but was also feeling the encroaching influence from capitalistic western culture. Perhaps it was an insurmountable feat for Criterion to have digitally restored this sequence, but I must admit having to endure watching the vertical scratch throughout that entire sequence was quite disappointing and even infuriating, considering it's one of my favourite moments in all of Ozu's films. Having said that, it's an absolute essential for any serious film enthusiast to have this in his or her dvd collection, so I guess I'll just have to grin and bear it. I'm one of those dummies who buys his favourites again and again, like Star Wars fans, so if they improve upon the transfer, I'll probably buy it again. ;-)

Addendum, September 14, 2014: I was feeling passionate when I originally wrote this review. The white emulsion streak is minimal, upon second, third, and fourth viewing. It's fine. At the time, I was probably just sensing the fact that these artistic artifacts do not last forever. Kudos for Criterion for caring enough to release this film on dvd for a North American audience.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Criterion Treasure!, July 16, 2006
I discovered this film after reading Paul Schrader's book, Transcendental Style in Film. I located an old VHS copy and got totally sucked in by it. I found I loved the father and daughter by the end in a way that was more real than in nearly any other film I'd ever seen. I felt as though I'd been invited into their home and then been treated like an honored guest as a subtle and profound crisis in this family was dealt with.

I bought a Code 3 DVD version from Shochiku Home Video and continued watching it while reading Donald Richie's book on Ozu. But the subtitles seemed to be translated poorly and I could tell that a lot of the subtleties were lost. So I was very pleased when Criterion came out with this version in which much greater care was given to the translations.

In the Shochiku version there are no subtitles at all in the famous scene at the Noh play. But Criterion provides a marvelous translation that adds another layer of depth to the experience. As Noriko looks at her father beside her and then at Mrs. Miwa, whom she thinks is going to marry him, her jealousy and hurt are underscored by the performance of the play. In it a chorus of monks recites in verse a woman's feelings for her lost love. The emotions of the woman in the play, hidden behind the monk's ritualistic performance, parallel the storm of feeling raging just beneath Noriko's subdued expressions.

This is a masterful work and Criterion's translators should be applauded. Also, Richard Peña's commentary points out even more subtleties than I'd read in Richie's book. This DVD is a treasure.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The profundity of everyday life, June 19, 2006
By 
C. Boerger (Columbus, OH USA) - See all my reviews
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Ozu at his best creates achingly beautiful cinematic musings on everyday life. No car chases or explosions, no murders, not a single gun is fired, not so much as a kick in the groin or even a clenched fist. His mileiu is the routine interaction among families, the ostensibly mundane issues that affect us on a daily basis, yet he presents these issues in images so meditative, so beautifully poetic, that they become timeless and profound. As I said, these qualities represent Ozu at his best. And Late Spring is one of his best films.

The story is typical Ozu, a young woman enjoys living with her father while her father very much wants her to get married and leave the house. Not that the father doesn't enjoy having her around, he simply feels that she needs to experience life away from the burden of caring for him, so he is willing to make the sacrifice. Simple enough, right? It's the way Ozu tells the story that makes it heartbreaking and meaningful. He eschews conventional approaches to filmmaking, no dissolves, he goes from scene to scene via simple cuts, he lingers on hallways and doors for seconds after characters have left the frame, or before they arrive, his establishing shots are often establishing montages, a series of shots that show streets, buildings, gardens, parkways, flowers. He retains the small details most filmmakers would leave out, the routine greetings, the "hi, how are you doing?"s, the casual preludes to pertinent conversation that might bog down a conventional film but are perfectly at home in the low key world of Ozu. In effect, his films move at a steady and brooding rhythm, they are like mood pieces, tone poems that never deviate from this quietude. Modern American purveyors of shrill and screechy cinema(P.T. Anderson, Paul Haggis) could take a lesson from Ozu. There isn't a single raised voice in Late Spring, yet the film is more deeply moving than a thousand Magnolias. In fact, the little surprise at the end of Late Spring is the closest Ozu has ever come to a conventional "twist" ending, and even that develops naturally out of the story and the characters.

There isn't much else to say about the film. The acting is superb. Special acknowledgement should go to Setsuko Hara's performance, the way her face says so much about what her character is going through, sans any dialogue. She has a sweet smile, and has always been good at playing happy-go-lucky characters, but with an anxious underside. She has never been better.

Modern audiences, especially western audiences, might have some trouble with the idea of arranged marriage as a solution to a young woman's dilemmas. Apparently, in Japan at that time, a young woman's options were very limited, either stay at home or get married(getting an apartment or having a career were not encouraged, at least that is what the film suggests). Ozu reminds me of John Ford, he looks at communal living and conservative traditions with a somewhat bittersweet eye, but ultimately respects their places in society, mourning their passing while accepting the reality of progress. Late Spring is from another place, another time, and that needs to be taken into account, because what it says about the human condition transcends any labels of old-fashionedness.

Shorter and more simple than Tokyo Story, but no less engaging. A masterpiece.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful film, November 5, 2006
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Late Spring was made in 1949, shortly after the change in the Japanese Constitution allowed women the right to have a divorce, could have only been made in this small period of time. The film is about family, marriage and happiness. A father, played by Chishu Ryu, wants his daughter, played by Setsuko Hara, to marry. At first it seems she refuses to marry out of fear of what might happen to him but it soon becomes clear she fears what might happen to herself. In other words she has grown attached to her father and living with him. To her marriage means being pushed out into a strange new home, a strange new way of life. She like Hamlet, fears the great unknown. The black & white movie is 108 minutes and has commentary by Richard Pena.

A second disc has Tokyo-Ga, a great 92 minutes tribute to Ozu filmed in Tokyo in 1985. It is wonderful to watch and, like the movie, gives a snapshot of Japan as it was and not how it is now. This set, in other words, holds two faces of Japan that once was. There is also a nice booklet with essays and disc information.

A must for any fans of Japanese film or if you already own Early Summer.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shadows in the alcove, May 30, 2006
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This sublime film juxtoposes ancient Japan (the tranquility of temples in Kamakura and Kyoto, the shadows of branches shimering in a sparce alcove, the pagentry of a Noh play) with a contemporary focus on the problems surrounding marriage and divorce in modern life.

A father (Chishu Ryu) and virginal 27-year-old daughter(Setsuko Hara) live alone together and are clearly and hopelessly dependent upon each other. The film obliquely ponders what would happen if the daughter were to marry and leave the father. The daughter resists the idea, wanting to remain with her dad. But the world around her conspires to force her to change. With pressure from her aunt, her independent and divorced friend Aya, and foremost from her father, the daughter finally makes up her mind. The movie then concludes with just a brushlike hint at what the actual consequences of that decision might be, as the father nods his head in despair.

Thus Ozu sets up his prototype family drama that he'd repeat over and over again after 1949 in other films such as Early Summer and Tokyo Story. Although Tokyo Story is Ozu's most famous masterpiece, Late Spring has a more bracing quality.

I think it's because, in Late Spring, Ozu is constantly injecting powerful doses of ancient Japanese culture (the alcove, the stage play) that propel the story along. Although the daughter may want to continue rejecting comprimise, change and marriage, the constant presence of ancient ceremony reminds the characters that change is inevitable. (Setsuko Hara famously marks this when her head drops dejectedly while she and her father watch the Noh play). Thus the film itself a ceremony of life -- a ceremony Ozu would repeat.

Like many original films that spawn sequels, Late Spring may in fact be the best.

Criterion celebrates this with an excellent comentary track, two lucid essays, a decent print (I can't compare it to other versions, but it is mostly crisp with an occasional scratchy wave), and the inclusion of Wim Wender's 1985 feature documentary on Ozu "Tokyo Ga."

Often DVDs aren't worth the money because they only bear one or two viewings before they sit on the shelf. Late Spring is worthwhile, a piece of art that hasn't weathered much despite 57 years and a fascinating introduction to one of the most intimate and culturally relevant filmakers ever.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars (4.5 stars) Late Spring" is a fantastic film that captures the changing of Japanese family life..., May 5, 2012
This review is from: Late Spring (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Yasujiro Ozu is one of the world's beloved directors. Having made many films since the 1920's up to his final film "An Autumn Afternoon" in 1962, his works have been appreciated by viewers and critics for his family comedies but also his serious family storylines such as "Early Spring", "Early Summer, "Tokyo Story", "Floating Weeds", "The End of Summer" (to name a few).

The Criterion Collection has been one of the major forces in America of bringing Ozu's films stateside and now they are giving Ozu films the high definition treatment on Blu-ray starting with his 1949 drama film "Late Spring" (known in Japan as "Banshun").

Based on the short novel "Chichi to Musume" (Father and Daughter) by Kazuo Hirotsu and featuring a collaboration with screenwriter Kogo Noda, "Late Spring" was written and shot during the Allied Powers Occupation of Japan and undergone many changes to fit official censorship requirements.

The film would star Chishu Ryu (who would star in other Ozu films sucha s "Early Summer", "Tokyo Story", "An Autumn Afternoon" and the popular "Tora-san" films of the '70s and '80s) and Setsuko Hara ("Early Summer", "Tokyo Story", "Late Autumn").

Over 60-years since "Late Spring" was shown in theaters and winning the prestigious Kinema Jumpo critic's award for "Best Film", "Best Director", "Best Screenplay" and "Best Actress", the film has resonated strongly with Ozu fans all over the world. Many have regarded "Late Spring" as one of Ozu's masterpiece and the film has been listed in many "Greatest Films of All Time" polls.

"Late Spring" is also a film that showcases Japanese family tradition and the importance of marriage, but also how Japan would face the issue of tradition and modern views towards marriage and also divorce. But for Ozu fans, who have watched his silent films and have seen the development of the Japanese family and most importantly Ozu's honest portrayal of the Japanese family and the sacrifice of the parents for their children (and vice versa).

"Late Spring" is one of those honest films featuring wonderful performances by both Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara, as the father and daughter.

VIDEO:

"Late Spring - The Criterion Collection #331" is presented in Black and White (1:33:1 aspect ratio). Having owned the 2006 Criterion Collection DVD release, first it is important for me to say that the film does have its share of scratches and film damage (nothing that prevents a viewer from enjoying the film). While the film does have scenes with missing frames and also occasional flickering, the film does look improved over the 2006 DVD release with much better contrast with the white and grays, but also the black levels are nice and deep.

According to the Criterion Collection, this high-definition transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35mm fine-grain master positive and a 35mm theatrical print. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, and warps were manually removed using MTI's DRS while Image System's Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, jitter, and flicker.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

"Late Spring" is presented in Japanese monaural (LPCM 1.0). Compared to the 2006 DVD release, there appears to be much more clarity when it comes to dialogue. While there are some moments of audio distortion on certain scenes, nothing detrimental and noticeable unless you are really looking for it.

According to the Criterion Collection, the original soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the film's optical track. Viewers may notice significant distortion inherent in the original surviving soundtrack materials. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated workstation.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

"Late Spring - The Criterion Collection #331' on Blu-ray comes with the following special features:

Audio Commentary - Featuring audio commentary by Richard Pena, program director of New York's Film Society of Lincoln Center. This was the original audio commentary from the 2006 DVD release and quite informative as Pena is very familiar with Ozu's work.
TOKYO-GA - (92 minutes) Wim Wenders 1985 documentary and tribute to Yasujiro Ozu, the documentary features interviews with Chishu Ryu and cinematographer Yuharu Atsuta.

EXTRAS:

"Late Spring - The Criterion Collection #331' comes with a 22-page booklet with the following essays: "Home with Ozu" by Michael Atkinson (Village Voice writer), Ozu and Setsuko Hara by Donald Richie (author of many books on Japanese cinema) and Ozu and Kogo Noda, an excerpt from Yasujiro Ozu: The Person and His Art (1964) from Ozu, translated for the original 2006 DVD release of "Late Spring".

JUDGMENT CALL:

As a person who loves and enjoys Yasujiro Ozu films, "Late Spring" has always been a favorite because of how it confronts Japanese perspective on the traditional marriage but now with a modern perspective, different from Ozu films which relied heavily on themes of the traditional Japanese family.

From the beginning of the film, we realize that the Somiya family are different compared to other families shown in previous Ozu films. For one, Professor Somiya had not shown great pressure towards his daughter Noriko, possibly because she does so much in taking care of him and the house but yet remains very happy. The other reason is because Noriko had health problems during World War II and as a father, having lost a wife, the last thing he wanted was to lose his only child and I believe that was his drive for not putting too much pressure on her. She's happy and that's all that mattered.

But of course, what seemed natural to Professor Somiya, the more he started to see how others viewed Noriko being single at home. This is where the traditional Japanese culture clashes with modernism. In "Late Spring", we see Aunt Masa giving her brother and also Noriko the third degree about being married. It's her duty to be married and be a happy wife. But for Noriko, she's happy the ways she is.

And this is where Noriko is unlike previous Japanese wives featured in Ozu's films. She is absolutely beautiful, stylish (in Western wear) and is not wearing a kimono. She has her set way of thinking, the freedom to think that way as it has gone unchallenged until now...when it comes to marriage. And with someone who is set in her ways...what can her father do?

And thus, the storyline becomes quite intriguing when we are told that Noriko's father may be getting remarried to another woman. And this is enough to set the happy Noriko off. Remarriage has always been seen indecent to her but from this point on, we see the change that takes place between both characters. The father submitting to the classic Japanese tradition, even though he was brought up in that tradition of arranged marriage, he himself had seen how his wife reacted to it earlier on. So, as much as he wants Noriko to find the right man that she wants to marry, the pressure from his sister and others have led him to lead Noriko in the path to marriage.

And for Noriko, we eventually see the change in her, as her father getting married leads her to realize that she may need to get married now, because with her father having a new wife, perhaps she will no longer be needed.

If anything, it's an intriguing juxtaposition of the Japanese family in 1949. From traditional to modern, and with the modern, we see Professor Onodera having remarried, while Noriko's good friend Aya has gotten a divorce (which was made legal in Japan a year prior). And most intriguing is how Ozu manages to confront these changes in Japanese culture when it comes to marriage.

Bare in mind, postwar changes were in store for Japan after World War II and the most affected were women. The social status of women was them being subservient towards their husband and after World War II, women not only were granted the right to a divorce, they were also allowed to join the workforce. So, we started to see more freedom for women after World War II and the importance of family started to decline. In fact, what I enjoy about "Last Spring" is how it is a time stamp of Japanese culture and the changing of family life which Ozu would feature throughout his career through his films. And for those familiar with Japanese culture today, from the shrinking of the Japanese population to a country with the lowest birth rate in the world, the Japanese family has changed tremendously and we witness those changes through Ozu's films.

As "Late Spring" will be an introduction to Ozu's work for those viewing Criterion Collection films primarily on Blu-ray, another fascination that I have towards Ozu films is his camera technique, using low angle shots and also using non-traditional cinematic methods by avoiding panning, tracking and crane shots. It's what separates Ozu from Kurosawa and that the reliance of Ozu to use static compositions and also his use of pillow shots used in "Late Spring" and various shots of symbolism which intrigues me each time I read various historians and critics share their own perspective of what they think those shots are all about.

And as mentioned, the efficacy of this film relies on its characters. It's one thing to have a talented Chishu Ryu to play the father, but it's Setsuko Hara, who absolutely shines in this film with her energy followed by her change of emotion. For those who watch a lot of early Japanese cinema, you don't see actresses such as Setsuko Hara play a character and is able to captivate the audience.

Overall, "Late Spring" is a fantastic film that captures the changing of Japanese family life and the clash between traditional and modern perspectives. But it's also a film, among many other Ozu films that shows us why Yasujiro Ozu is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Captivating and powerful, "Late Spring" is a magnificent portrayal of the changing Japanese family and a film that I highly recommend!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marriage story . . ., August 4, 2006
It is postwar Japan and a widowed professor wants to marry off his only daughter. The daughter, however, doesn't want to marry and wishes to live on with her father, looking after him in his declining years, believing that there's something "indecent" about an older man wishing to remarry. When she believes that is her father's intent, she experiences it as a betrayal of her love for him.

Ozu builds a long, fascinating domestic drama on this simple premise, exploring the emotional dynamics that it raises and the complexities of living at a time when traditional roles for women in Japan are being challenged by Western ideals that permit women greater freedom to control their own lives.

Made over 50 years ago, this film in its quiet simplicity seems remarkably fresh and undated today. The ambiguities that it raises are not neatly resolved, and the final images are haunting when reflected on afterwards. Performances are set off by Ozu's remarkable visual style, the detached camera work and thoughtful composition, and the contrast of interiors (all verticals and horizontals) and exteriors (natural forms of trees in the wind and surf flowing onto the shore). The DVD includes a scene-by-scene commentary by film critic and historian Richard Pena.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why No Discount?!, March 21, 2006
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This is one of Ozu's greatest movies and it comes with Wim Wender's homage to Ozu, Tokyo-Ga. But usually Amazon gives a substantial discount on unreleased Criterions. Why isn't this discounted? I will try to buy it at a lower price. Is this price a mistake?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply a Masterpiece, January 10, 2007
By 
Andres C. Salama (Buenos Aires, Argentina) - See all my reviews
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In Late Spring (Banshun in Japanese), the luminous Setsuko Hara stars as the daughter of a respected and widowed professor. She is single and in her late twenties, and by the standards of the Japanese society of the time, she already should be married. The movie, as many have noted, has a similar plot to another Ozu movie of the time: Early Summer. In both films, the plot deals with the "problem" of having to marry Hara. The main difference is that Late Spring is more lineal, less messy, more stylized and eventually sadder than Early Summer. Also, in this movie her eventual husband is never shown. If I have to decide which of these two wonderful movies is the better one, I would vote for Banshun. Not less because it has a number of scenes wonderful by themselves, like the segment of the theater (with the camera fixing on Hara expression), the bicycle race in the beach early in the film, or the speech by the professor to her daughter later in the film on the necessity of her to marry (despite the fact that he will now have to live alone) because as time passes, the cycle of life should be respected.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent --- one of the most touching films I have ever seen, February 26, 2007
By 
chefdevergue (Spokane, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I almost hate writing reviews about movies like this, because there are only so many superlatives I know. Simply put, this is one of the most beautiful & touching films ever --- an utterly convincing portrait of a father/daughter relationship which must be forever changed. Noriko is perfectly content with this idyllic relationship as it is, but her father knows that ultimately she will be unfulfilled if she does not move on with her life, and in what has to be one of the most wonderful scenes I have ever seen in a film, he explains the essence of marriage & the creation of a new life & persona within the marriage. That scene alone is worth the price of the DVD.

Of course, with Criterion, you get what you pay for --- lots of really good commentary (discussing this movie within the greater context of Ozu's career, as well as an examination of everyday life in Occupied Japan) and other features. Five stars really doesn't seem to be enough for this. Every father of a daughter ought to watch this, I think.
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Late Spring (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
Late Spring (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] by Yasujiro Ozu (Blu-ray - 2012)
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