For Reel

Floating Weeds (1959)
January 23, 2012, 2:30 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Yasujirô Ozu

A remake of his own highly successful silent film A Story of Floating Weeds, Yasujirô Ozu’s Floating Weeds is the more remembered version, though it suffers by comparison in not having the same concision in the storytelling. While the central narrative is largely identical – and, indeed, a number of scenes almost play as direct copies – his world is expanded with even more attention to the kabuki performances and a greater development of the auxiliary members of the troupe. Tonally, the picture is much lighter, which Donald Richie suggests is due to the Daiei studio (Ozu was typically associated with Shochiku), in which, “the chosen audience was young people looking for novelty.” The comedic elements work to the film’s detriment – in particular, an ugly woman in the village becomes a source of frequent comic relief, which today plays as mean-spirited and detracts from the seriousness of the melodrama. Kazuo Miyagawa’s (the famed cinematographer who also shot Rashomon and Ugetsu) color photography is perhaps the best justification for this story’s retelling. He delights in capturing the vibrancy of the colors of the costumes, and in his use of Ozu’s familiar point-of-view shots in which the characters speak almost directly to the camera he heightens the intensity of the confrontations.

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