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An Autumn Afternoon

Directed by Yasijuro Ozu

Japan, 1962

Cornerhouse, 13 July 2014

An Autumn Afternoon

A beautiful film, Ozu’s last, and although not very much happens by way of story – a daughter leaves the family home and gets married – there is a lot going on.

Each shot is informed by a calm compassion, an awareness of life’s transience and frequent injustice, as well as being perfectly composed – not least this director’s renowned ‘pillow shots’.  The dynamic is provided by a widower’s slow realisation that he’s using his daughter for his own convenience.  He has never remarried, it not seeming to be necessary, but that’s only because his daughter has borne the brunt, taken up the slack.  How he wakes up to her plight and places her happiness before his own; that’s the engine at the heart of the film and the main reason why it’s ultimately so moving.

Something else to pick up on is how Americanised these Japanese are.  They wear western dress, drink whiskey in American bars, play or aspire to play golf, covet consumer goods like refrigerators and leather handbags.  Yet they retain a definite traditional formality.

One of those rare films that will never wholly surrender all of its meaning and mystery.  It’s showing again tomorrow, further details here.

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