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Early Summer (The Criterion Collection)

4.6 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A nuanced examination of a family falling apart, Early Summer tells the story of the Mamiya family and their efforts to marry off their headstrong daughter, Noriko, played by the extraordinary Setsuko Hara. A seemingly simple story, it is among the director's most emotionally complex. The Criterion Collection is proud to present one of Ozu's most enduring classics.


Like any of Yasujiro Ozu's best-known films, Early Summer is a marvel of cinematic simplicity, revealing layers of depth through multiple viewings. It may seem at first that Ozu's family tale is too simple, but looks are deceiving, and closer study reveals an intensely structured, highly formalized example of Ozu's transcendental realism, focusing on the dilemma of 28-year-old Noriko (played by the immensely popular Setsuko Hara), whose late-breaking decision to marry sends unexpected shock waves through three generations of her close-knit family. While providing a vivid portrait of liberated womanhood in post-war Japan, this lighthearted yet quietly devastating drama also serves as a gentle study of tradition vs. modernity, and a clash between conformity and independence. It's also a triumph of DVD-as-film-school: As he did for Criterion's release of A Story of Floating Weeds, the distinguished scholar Donald Richie provides an eloquent full-length commentary as valuable as the film itself, thoroughly exploring the purpose of Ozu's low-angle style, the influence of Ernst Lubitsch, the importance of Setsuko as a role model for Japanese girls, stylistic comparison to Jane Austen's fiction, and a variety of other relevant topics. "Ozu's Films from Behind the Scenes" gathers three of Ozu's longtime collaborators for affectionate reminiscence, and mini-essays by Ozu expert David Bordwell and long-time Ozu admirer Jim Jarmusch lend further appreciation from critical and personal perspectives. This is Criterion's fifth Ozu release on DVD, and like the others, it's highly recommended. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • New digital transfer with restored image and sound plus new subtitle translation
  • Audio commentary by Japanese-film expert Donald Richie
  • Ozu's Films from Behind-the-Scenes
  • New essay by film scholar David Bordwell

Product Details

  • Actors: Setsuko Hara, Chishû Ryû, Chikage Awashima, Kuniko Miyake, Ichirô Sugai
  • Directors: Yasujirô Ozu
  • Writers: Yasujirô Ozu, Kôgo Noda
  • Producers: Takeshi Yamamoto
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled
  • Language: Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: July 20, 2004
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00026L7MC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,431 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Early Summer (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 30, 2004
Format: DVD
The more Ozu films I watch, the more I fall in love with the simplicity and elegance of his storytelling. Like all his work, "Early Summer" ("Bakushu") is a beautiful snapshot of the human experience, in this case a 28-year old woman being pressured by her family to marry and balancing her own happiness with the happiness of those around her.
The tone of the film, like the weather in the title, is light and happy like a soft gentle early summer breeze. Whimsical and joyful, even while dealing with a potentially heavy subject.
Arranged marriages (O-Miyai) are still practiced in Japan today and were much more common when "Early Summer" was made in 1951. In the cases of women like Noriko (Setsuko Hara), who at 28 would be considered almost an old maid, if she hasn't found a love-match by now, it is best to arrange a marriage before she becomes too old for anyone to take her. However, Noriko is a modern woman, with ideas for her own happiness as her family will soon find out.
Ozu's simplicity is never boring, and Setsuko Hara is so completely charming that her smile can carry any story. "Early Summer" utilizes many of Ozu's principle actors, and Chishu Ryu is on hand as Noriko's older brother Koichi, although he would play her father two years later in "Tokyo Story."
Criterion's presentation of "Early Summer" is every bit the jewel you would expect it to be, with Ozu-expert Donald Richie supplying the commentary track, and a documentary called "Ozu Films from Behind-the-Scenes" detailing his working methods and camera techniques.
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By A Customer on January 12, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
Early Summer is a variation on a seemingly perennial Ozu theme, namely, a family trying to arrange a marriage for a daughter and the daughter showing she has a mind of her own. The idea of an arranged marriage ("omiai" in Japanese) may seem strange to Western viewers. But they were quite common in Japan when this movie was made. The film centers around the character Noriko, played by Setsuko Hara (who interestingly was called the "eternal virgin" by her fans). Noriko is 28 and still single. Her boss finds a potential husband and her family gets all excited. But Noriko balks at the arranged marriage. What she eventually decides to do will likely surprise you. Keep in mind that Japan was in a period of transition when Early Summer was made. Many of the old ways, including arranged marriages, were being challenged by the younger generation.
What I enjoy most about watching this and other Ozu films is the focus on character rather than plot. We really get to know the people in this movie, as if they were members of our own family. Setsuko Hara gives an outstanding performance as the sweet but rebellious Noriko. This film is a good introduction to Ozu for people who've never seen any of his movies.
UPDATE: People who may have been hesitant to purchase this movie because it's only on VHS will be pleased to know that Criterion has acquired the rights to several Ozu classics, including Early Summer, Tokyo Story and Floating Weeds. According to a recent Criterion press release, the first DVD release of these titles is scheduled for the fall of 2003.
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By hume on January 16, 2006
Format: DVD
few films have moved me as much as this one, my third and favorite ozu. the other reviewers have touched on most everything, i'll only say that this film has much more humor than i expected and for much of the movie i was either smiling or out-right laughing. the single girls vs. the married women, the brother spying on the conversation between his wife and sister, the cake scene (i smiled the whole time, then laughed), even the bratty kids. i could go on for a while. but this film also made me cry (you can probably guess where). so many beautiful scenes, quiet, pure acting, long shots of moving and subtle scenery. i had given up on showing ozu to others, because it's usually seen as boring and nothing happening, but this movie has put the impetus in me once again. i want to force everyone i know to watch it!
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Format: DVD
Having just enjoyed the quiet brilliance of Yasujiro Ozu's "Tokyo Monogatari (Tokyo Story)" for the first time last week, I was immediately drawn to another Ozu film released by the Criterion Collection last year, 1951's "Bakushu (Early Summer)". Both movies are part of his classic Noriko trilogy which uses many of the same actors playing characters with the same names but in different roles. Consequently, the great Setsuko Hara portrays a young woman named Noriko in both movies, but this time, she is the liberated daughter (rather than the forlorn daughter-in-law) and also the focal point of the story (rather than the aged parents in "Tokyo Story").

The musical chairs continue with Chishu Ryu playing his real age as Noriko's strong-willed brother Koichi (rather than the resigned grandfather) and Haruko Sugimura playing older as neighbor Tomi, the mother of Noriko's prospective fiancee (versus the conniving daughter Shige). Chieko Higashiyama still plays the grandmother, but her name is not Tomi but Shige, and her husband Shukishi is portrayed by Ichiro Sugai. It's only confusing if you are looking for some kind of plot continuity between the films, but Ozu is primarily interested in reinforcing similar themes of the evolving family unit in post-WWII Japan. This time, he does it in a more comic, sometimes even ribald fashion, and while it doesn't resonate quite as deeply as "Tokyo Story", "Early Summer" is full of Ozu's shrewd observations and insights that make it emotionally affecting, especially as the story takes a surprise turn toward the end.

The story here centers on the Mamiya family, who are trying to find a suitable husband for 28-year old single daughter Noriko.
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