For Reel

The End of Summer (1961)
February 9, 2016, 8:16 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Yasujirō Ozu
4.5 Stars
The End of SummerThose familiar with the films of Yasujirō Ozu will likely be startled by the opening shot of The End of Summer. Instead of a typical domestic scene, Ozu’s penultimate film begins by establishing modern Osaka, complete with neon billboards that grapple for one’s attention. A key advertisement reads NEW JAPAN, literally demonstrating the recurrent theme of traditional Japanese culture vs. encroaching modernity. In his late films, Ozu seems to have fully come to terms with the younger generation. That is not to say that he doesn’t have a great affection for the widowed patriarch (Ganjiro Nakamura) of The End of Summer, but the film is about how his children overcome their father’s influence and begin to live their own lives. Manbei (Nakamura) is a key argument against the assertion that Ozu was a patriarchal filmmaker, but what is particularly interesting about his characterization is that he is both liberated (he is a man who lives purely for pleasure) and oppressive, failing to recognize that his daughters might want a different future than the one he tries to push on them. His passing, then, releases the women from his influence, but also serves as a transference of his penchant for pursuing personal desires openly. Ozu’s films often involved the troubled encounters between an individual and his/her family, and The End of Summer resolves it conclusively, not merely with a death but by the passing on of a sensibility.

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