An Autumn Afternoon
The Criterion Collection
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Yasujiro Ozu's final film is also his final masterpiece, the gently heartbreaking story of a man's dignified resignation to both life s ever-shifting currents and society's gradual modernization. Though widower Shuhei Hirayama (Ozu's frequent leading man Chishu Ryu) has been living comfortably for years with his grown daughter, a series of events leads him to accept and encourage her marriage and departure. As elegantly composed and achingly tender as any of the Japanese master's films, An Autumn Afternoon (Sanna no aji) is one of cinema s fondest farewells. SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES: New, restored high-definition digital transfer, New audio commentary featuring David Bordwell, author of Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema, Excerpts from Yasujiro Ozu and the Taste of Sake, a 1978 French television program looking back on Ozu's career, featuring film critic Michel Ciment, Theatrical trailer, New and improved English subtitle translation, PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by film scholars Geoff Andrew and Donald Richie
Deceptively breezy, Yasujiro Ozu's final film, made in 1962, is the lovely culmination of the mysterious writer-director's fascination with family, and the social mechanisms by which different generations fulfill obligations to one another and to themselves. The central character, Shuhei Hirayama (Chishu Ryu, Ozu's longtime collaborator), is a 60-ish executive and widower who slowly grows concerned that his 24-year-old daughter, Michiko (Shima Iwashita), has not married because she feels responsible for taking care of him at home. Taciturn, low-key, but affable, Shuhei is a hard man to read. But through his friendships, habits, daily reminders of his past and fear that he might rob his daughter of her youth, Shuhei gradually comes to terms with his responsibility to see Michiko fulfilled and happy. There is also more to it than that: An Autumn Afternoon is also about Shuhei turning a page in his small part in history, the closing chapters of a life that involved military service during World War II and settling into post-war, largely Westernized Japan. These things are all understated, but Ozu gives every character a shape, a recognition that one must play the cards one is dealt without self-deception. With that comes a certain Zen serenity, humor and perhaps melancholy, but in An Autumn Afternoon's spirit of acceptance, a bittersweet life is a good life. Special features on this Criterion release include trailers and excerpts from a French television special about Ozu. --Tom KeoghSee all Editorial Reviews
- Audio commmentary featuring film scholar David Bordwell, author of Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema
- Excerpts from "Yasujiro Ozu and The Taste of Sake" a 1978 French television program looking back on Ozu's career, featuring critics Michel Ciment and Georges Perec
- Booklet featuring new essays by film critic Geoff Andrew and film scholar Donald Richie
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Being able to see a movie drama from Japan in color was amazing in itself - the ruins, the play of red and white, the angle of the camera allowing us to almost look up at the characters and down the layered settings, with the foreground and background and everything in between seeming to jump out at you. The reunion of old friends, the TV set, the fridge, the vacuum cleaner, the tiny plots that twist around the main plot, and the baseball game show the change in Japan in the post-war years. But the old traditions and ways of the family still hung on. It makes such a great mixture of new, old and, sometimes, lovely themes that pop out at you. Get it new or used.
There are several levels of the zenith of the cinematic arts represented here. First of all the visual aspect featuring amazing uses of the color red and his consummate organization of each scene in terms of blocking and actor movement through the assigned spaces. But even more so, the craft of his asking his actors not to "act" creates the most gorgeous and moving poignancy of any movie I know of. So here one finds perfection of both structure and substance.
It is another Ozu masterpiece. Highly recommended.
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Anything with Chrishu Ryu is great.
When he is with the greatest female star I have ever seen (Setsuko Hara -...Read more