For Reel

A Story of Floating Weeds (1934)
January 23, 2012, 2:25 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Yasujirô Ozu

David Bordwell assesses that A Story of Floating Weeds was the pivotal film in Yasujirô Ozu’s maturation as a filmmaker. Dealing with the destruction of a family, it first incorporates a theme that would become a staple throughout the rest of Ozu’s career, and it is in the picture that Ozu perfects his influential methods of camera placement, objects that serve as transitions, and a use of elliptical storytelling. Though Ozu’s own remake of the film, 1959’s Floating Weeds, garners much more attention today, the original remains the better achievement. The picture begins when a traveling kabuki troupe arrives in a seaside town. Kihachi, the leader, visits with his former mistress and checks in with the son who believes him to be an uncle. Complicating matters is Kihachi’s present lover, who enlists a fellow actress to seduce Kihachi’s son. In the protagonist, Ozu offers a terribly flawed, albeit wholly sympathetic man. When his son is approached and told that his father only wants him to become a “good man”, it is clear that what Kihachi means is that he wishes anything but his own fate for the boy. His profession as an actor is enlightening in this regard, as, though he has mastered the art of emulating others, he has yet to come to terms with the development of his own character, and so before the picture ends he is forced to re-embark on his perpetual journey.

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