Sunday, January 30, 2011

Analysis of "There Was A Father", 00:54:00 - 00:59:59

There Was A Father, Scene 3451, The only son and the brother of Toda family


In prewar/wartime Japan, and postwar Japan to some extent, the clothes, especially women's, convey various implications as to the social/cultural roles, status and psychology of the character. This implication is clearly evident in Ozu's films. In Ozu's prewar, wartime films, majority of female characters wear kimonos, while male characters are dominantly in western clothes. However, after the war, the (young) female characters are completely converted to the western dress, as can be evidenced by "Late Spring". Noting that "Late Spring" and "There Was A Father" or "Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family" are only less than ten years apart, it is all the more surprising. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Analysis of "There Was A Father", 00:48:00 - 00:53:59

There Was A Father, Scene 3115

The father and the son visit the small hot-spring resort to spend a weekend.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Analysis of "There Was A Father", 00:42:00 - 00:47:59

There Was A Father, Scene 2669

Shohei Imamura, a very prominent Japanese film director (Pigs and Battleships, The Ballad of Narayama, The Eel), was once Ozu's assistant. He immensely hated Ozu's style of film direction and asked to be relieved from the position. To him, Ozu had always picked the worst take out of tens of retakes. Ozu's endless retake was infamous in the studio, as he kept saying no until actors and actresses were so exhausted that their uniqueness were stripped off. Imamura found nothing to be learned from Ozu's direction. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Analysis of "There Was A Father", 00:36:00 - 00:41:59

There Was A Father, Scene 2420


A visit to Hirata's home is another example of two-room staging coupled with a small room in the back. This scene echoes the earlier scene at Horikawa's home when they discussed about Horikawa's decision to resign his position. While the earlier scene opened with a troubled expression on Hirata's face, here we have the more jovial smile on his face. Hirata is also a widower, but lives with his daughter (Nami) and young son (Seiichi). The contrast with Horikawa's father-son relationship is revealing. They are living together, they have a home of their own, and they have their own privacy. Especially the privacy is important, as can be evidenced by the tone, delivery and vocabulary of Nami's speech in privacy (in a small room in the back) and in public (in front of Horikawa). The only instance we see this kind of intimacy as a family in Horikawa's is their exchange in the first scene of the film, at their own home.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Analysis of "There Was A Father", 00:30:00 - 00:35:59

There Was A Father, Scene 1911
The space of two neighboring rooms with fusuma in between is the most effectively utilized in this section. Here, the son listened to his father's decision without any utterance of protest, but his despair and disappointment is apparent visually. The next room has been a void up until this point, then the son moves to the room and sits on tatami quietly, his back toward his father. The distance here is only a few meters in reality, but we feel it more distant than it actually is.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Analysis of "There Was A Father", 00:24:00 - 00:29:59

There Was A Father, Scene 1606
Sometimes, we find some illogical coincidence among trivial matters in our daily life. If you see the old lady from the next block with her dog in the morning, it's a bad omen for the day, for example. But if you see a black cat living the next door before you start the car, you will be okey for the day. Maybe the collage kid in the coffee shop signals the bad weather in the afternoon, or something else. No logical connection. It's just a stupid coincidence you happened to notice. If you take a statistics for such matters, it's probably not even close to find correlation. You just imagine manufactured serendipity as a bit real. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Analysis of "There Was A Father", 00:18:00 - 00:23:59

There Was A Father, Scene 1089
Sessho (殺生)  Taking of the Life

One of the Five Precepts in Bhuddism is not to take life. This "taking of life" is called "sessho" in Japanese. During the conversation with the priest, Horikawa says "It is worrisome that he likes sessho," referring to his son going out to catch dragonflies. Not troubled so much, just the remark. The priest replies, "Oh, kids are like that". Later, at night, the father and the son are talking about the plan of fishing the next day. The priest, while working on the mill, says "Don't mind me. I already gave them last rites. But these fishes (Haya, Japanese Dace) are quite wily..."

 
 
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