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Late Spring: Sexuality in Ozu and Kurosawa (Quiet Duel)

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    Ugetsu

    Late Spring and The Quiet Duel share quite similar themes – both deal with male/female relationships in the immediate post war years in the shadow of illness and disease (real and metaphorical). My first thought in comparing the two was the obvious difference in the treatment of sexuality and desire. The Quiet Duel is, for its time, very frank in its depiction of desire. It is perfectly clear that we are meant to envisage that Kyoji and Misao would, given half a chance, set some futons on fire, and any vases in the room would be quickly shaken off their tables before anyone had a chance to contemplate their metaphorical meaning.

    On first viewing, I thought Late Spring was the almost the exact opposite. The obvious difference between a relationship between father and daughter and husband and wife – i.e. sex, is never even hinted at (although of course some writers have sought an incestuous subtext). It seems abundantly clear that Noriko is not motivated by sexual need – indeed, she seems to dislike the thought, especially when it applies to anyone older than her. I thought it seemed significant that in her conversations with her friend, the notion of sexual pleasure was never even hinted at in the discussions of the pro’s and cons of marriage (unless there is some subtext to slicing radishes that I’m not aware of). The first time I saw the film I think I assumed this was just the way films at the time dealt with this, but as we’ve seen from The Quiet Duel, there does not seem to have been a problem in Japanese film at the time at addressing it a bit more frankly. In fact, at least one Ozu film of the period, The Flavour of Green Tea over Rice, is a little more overt about sex.

    But reading the excellent Norman Holland essay Vili linked to in the introduction, I can see this view as being entirely wrong. When seen in the context of the Noh play, the film is full of sexual innuendo and suggestion, although it seems largely centered on the father and his putative wife. But again, the innuendo is overlain with an element of disgust – and its not just an offspring’s natural revulsion at the idea of her parents having sex, as she applies it to her uncle as well. But again, this is leavened out somewhat in that the characters we see are all quite sympathetic, with the exception of the potential wife, who we never really get to know.

    Now looking back to The Quiet Duel, while passion is seen as worthy and good, it is certainly not healthy – it is constantly seen in the context of sexually transmitted disease, ultimately of course in the horribly deformed baby.

    I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this, but I find so many curious parallels and contrasts in this film when it comes to sexuality and fertility. Is it going too far to suggest that in a devastated country (not to mention one that had recently been nuked), the notion of fertility and sexuality had at least temporarily become one tainted by the notion of disease and filth? Was there an awareness of the sexual crimes of Japanese soldiers (comfort women, etc) as well as an awareness of widespread prostitution in the wake of occupiers creating a culture where sex was seen with real revulsion, where it was associated with defeat and shame? Were both directors consciously or unconsciously trying to deal with this pervasive notion?

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    MurderousInk

    Hi,

    I stumbled upon this site, and this is indeed a great place to visit. And, if I may, I would like to give my two cents.

    Ugetsu,

    I think I understand your idea or line of thought on these two films in context of postwar Japan. If you are interested, I had my thoughts on “Quiet Duel” in that context, sort of.

    http://vermillionandonenights.blogspot.com/2011/05/postwar-kurosawa-quiet-duel.html

    As for “Late Spring”, I think many Japanese audience at the time must have found the film completely ethereal. The way of life depicted was completely out of sync with the world outside the theater. As Tadao Sato described in his book, “The Art of Yasujiro Ozu”, Ozu completely wiped out the postwar society from his screen. Japan was plagued with food shortage, unemployment, prostitution, inflation, housing problems and moral erosion. No trace of these hardships are present in “Late Spring”. It is often said, Ozu realized he had not been comfortable nor successful with the “realism” he tried in two previous films. The film is filled with prewar sentiment and sensuality.

    Left-wing, socialist/labor movement was the crucial social factor during the turmoil years of 1947 to 1950. Ozu’s “reactionary” sensitivity was underscored by these intellectuals as an example of prewar “backward” mentality. Kurosawa’s view was much more ambivalent. While sympathetic with postwar generation, but he was not totally with labor “Progressive” movement, either.

    Was there an awareness of the sexual crimes of Japanese soldiers (comfort women, etc)? No, not in the context of “Quiet Duel”. Kurosawa might have heard about the crimes (he had never been drafted), but the awareness was far from present among Japanese at the time. Many didn’t think it as a crime. (That’s why we still have a group of old men who do not admit their actions.) Rather, “an awareness of widespread prostitution” was dominant back then. Your phrase “a culture where sex was seen with real revulsion” made me think about the hidden context of sexuality in “Late Spring”. Don’t read too much in “Pickled radish” part. It’s an old joke. But “jealous” is something else. Furthermore, we find “filthy” line most evocative. I don’t know how to describe it, but Onodera’s reaction is what exactly Japanese men do when he hears a young woman like Noriko utter the word “けがわらしい(filthy)”. That’s not expression of her “revulsion”. Not exactly. But this “reaction” is exactly what Ozu was looking for. I will think it over how to put it into sentences.

    MI

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    lawless

    Ugetsu – I have to admit to seeing some potentially incestuous subtext, not from the father, but from Noriko. Not in the sense of sensuality, or anything overtly physical, but her single-minded obsession with her father and staying with him, and what could be interpreted as jealousy of the woman in whom she thought he was interested. The scene in Kyoto, with them sleeping in the same room, also read strangely to me, but I suspect that’s more cultural than anything.

    Of course, this could all be interpreted as a devoted daughter who’s spent too much time taking care of her father and not enough time establishing her own identity feeling hurt and rejected for being pushed away. But from what I’ve seen, Japanese pop culture doesn’t shy from representations of incest — the manga Angel Sanctuary, which includes brother/sister incest between main characters, and Saiyuki, which includes brother/sister incest in one character’s backstory and mother/son incest in another. I don’t know if that was true when Late Spring was made as well.

    I have yet to see The Quiet Duel — the used copy I ordered from a bookseller affiliated with Barnes & Noble is taking forever to arrive — so I can’t comment on the similarites or differences between the two movies, but there is a thread of commentary on sexuality as well as marriage and accepting adult responsibilities running through Late Spring. I’d have to rewatch to see, but might there be some prurient interest lurking in her remark about her father’s friend’s remarrying being filthy? I’m not so sure she’s completely uninterested in sex. She may be interested but shy and scared of something she knows nothing about and that may seem to her too uncontrollable.

    As for comfort women, Japanese of the time definitely were either not aware of them or denied any guilt in connection with them. The defensive attitude of the Japanese government and society in general, and the lack of a sense of shame or apology, about the treatment of comfort women, at least half of whom were Korean, remains an irritant in the relationship between Korea and Japan to this day. As Murderousink points out, the movie ignores the social consequences of Japan’s defeat and in that sense, has a pre-war sensibility.

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    Ugetsu

    MurderousinkWelcome to you – your blog site is very interesting.

    As for “Late Spring”, I think many Japanese audience at the time must have found the film completely ethereal. The way of life depicted was completely out of sync with the world outside the theater. As Tadao Sato described in his book, “The Art of Yasujiro Ozu”, Ozu completely wiped out the postwar society from his screen. Japan was plagued with food shortage, unemployment, prostitution, inflation, housing problems and moral erosion. No trace of these hardships are present in “Late Spring”. It is often said, Ozu realized he had not been comfortable nor successful with the “realism” he tried in two previous films. The film is filled with prewar sentiment and sensuality.

    I’m not sure if I would agree with this – it seems to me that the post war situation is suffused through the film, even if the very comfortable house and lifestyle of the professor was not typical. Certainly, Kurosawas post war films are much more direct in their portrayal of the filth and destruction of post war Japan (and this was of course running right up against the rules of the Occupation that bomb sites never be shown), but I think that many films (including those I’ve seen of Mizoguchi) in that period tended to focus on the relatively comfortable as a way of getting around the restrictions on film makers. Certainly, the Occupation presence is a very strong feature of Late Spring.

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    Vili Maunula

    Ugetsu: Now looking back to The Quiet Duel, while passion is seen as worthy and good, it is certainly not healthy – it is constantly seen in the context of sexually transmitted disease, ultimately of course in the horribly deformed baby.

    I don’t think that I would go as far as to say that passion itself is presented as unhealthy in The Quiet Duel. It is unhealthy — or problematic — only within the context of an STD (whatever its metaphorical role in the film). Therefore, I don’t really see the film as suggesting that sexuality is revulsionary. Neither do I see Late Spring in those terms.

    I do agree with you though that Late Spring identifies itself very strongly as a post-war work, and the presence of the occupation is very noticeable. MurderousInk (welcome to ak.info!) has a very good point that the everyday reality of the relatively well-to-do characters in Late Spring does not correspond with the lives of most Japanese individuals of the time, yet I think that the film’s focus is nevertheless very much in post-war Japan and its rebirth.

    In fact Ugetsu, I would put aside “sexuality” for a moment and rather focus on the other key word from what you wrote here: fertility. The Quiet Duel, like you pointed out last month, is very much about babies, and I think that Late Spring actually shares this theme, even if it doesn’t actually have any babies (although a number of them are mentioned). In The Quiet Duel the issue was that the protagonist was unable to procreate because of what had happened during the war. In Late Spring, the protagonist is clingling to the past, unwilling for anything to change, and therefore also unable to procreate (until more or less tricked into accepting change). Both works recognise the importance of Japan’s next generation, while also realising the complexities of its birthing, including the fact that the midwife speaks English.

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    Ugetsu

    Vili

    In fact Ugetsu, I would put aside “sexuality” for a moment and rather focus on the other key word from what you wrote here: fertility.

    That is an interesting notion, especially as Lawless (rightly) points out that part of Noriko’s jealousy could arise from the possibility that her father could have a child as his prospective wife isn’t as old as him (at least, she doesn’t appear so, I think her age seems a little ambiguous, I would have thought the lady was in her early 40’s). But for a long period of the film, I do think that we are dealing more with sexual jealousy rather than fears/hopes around sexuality – for example the emphasis on that intriguing pickle metaphor (which I think is quite a common saying in Japan?). Its also I think maybe significant (unless I missed something), that in all the conversations with Noriko, or about Noriko behind her back in trying to get her to marry, having children was never mentioned. This is in contrast to Quiet Duel where there are clear indications that ‘having a family’ was an important motivator for both characters.

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    MurderousInk

    Ugetsu, Villi

    Thanks for welcome note, and I appreciate your insightful comments.

    I am thinking over about post-war aspects of Late Spring, as you describe, and I agree that it has certain aspects of “post-war” as in Ozu’s trajectory of filmmaking. His postwar landscapes gradually become more claustrophobic, and mind-scape become more ambiguous and filled with feel of abandonment. Late Spring is the beginning of the curve toward that direction. As you point out, the presence of Occupation is visible in this film. As for some visible English and signs of Occupation, I have to say it is an example of Ozu’s usual trick to include some artifact of contemporary Japan. To non-Japanese audience, those in Late Spring may stand out, but Japanese audience would notice such little thing as calligraphy frame in the classroom in “I was born but…”, Masnhu relocation in “Toda family”, the chemistry class in “There Was A Father”, Kid’s plate and Hato bus tour in “Tokyo Story”, a golf store in Ginza in “Late Summer” to name a few. Even though I wasn’t even born at the time, these are familiar aspects of Japanese culture my parents and grandparents talked about. So these visible signs of Occupation are not particularly unique. Ozu’s postwar is much more about his revisiting prewar sensitivity.

    First, as for jealousy/fertility question, I believe fertility is fundamental of all in this context of “Late Spring”. As in many Japanese films and literary works of the earlier era, it doesn’t have to be expressed explicitly. This is exactly what I meant by “prewar sentiment and sensuality”. There were many literary, visual works in prewar Japan, in which sexuality and eroticism were expressed in suggestive manner. But I have to say this “suggestion” is much more evocative than Hollywood of thirties. For example, “Okoto to Sasuke” directed by Yasujiro Shimazu, based on the novel by none other than Junichiro Tanizaki, is filled with such extreme notions of eroticism of self sacrifice and visibility without any direct reference to them. (Almost) incestuous overtone is clearly evident in Late Spring, but still cloaked under “good daughter cares for her father” theme. “Filthy” line is in this realm. Many Japanese critics pointed out that Noriko carefully admitted her sexuality to Onodera by uttering that word. If she thinks Onodera is REALLY filthy (having a mistress, for example), she wouldn’t say anything (that’s revulsion). By saying that, she admits there is a physical side of marriage and she knows it (that’s trust).

    When I mean “postwar Japan”, I mean the macroscopic front of public interest. And in that context, sexuality will be expressed more direct and unflattering manner (Kurosawa, Ichikawa, and other B films of the era). Ozu’s approach is not only unique but quite important in that particular time in history, because it reminded people there is something very elegant in prewar sentimentality and sensuality. Everything “prewar” was considered “wrong” not only by influence of Occupation Force but also by “progressive” elements in society. Large part of population, especially adults, were at loss in terms of moral ground. My father told me how the school teachers at the time had lost focus on what to teach. Some started to claim arranged marriage was something of past. Richard Conde of CIE demanded every movie should contain a kiss for expression of love. Some considered it a revelation, many (such as Mizoguchi) considered it an insult. Conde was relieved of duty in 1948, and actual censorship by Occupation was not much in effect by the time of “Late Spring”. But it was studio executives who wanted to comply with Occupation Force (or very fearful of them). Against this background, Toho Labor Conflict was making headlines. Some filmmakers demanded liberation of filmmaking process. Some of them were communists, some were socialists, and many didn’t know what they were talking about. In the middle of such confusion and disagreements, Ozu presented his thesis of our culture. He presented that there is something we should not forget in the way we live. That’s Late Spring. Some realized Ozu was searching for something we had lost somewhere after the war. Some considered it a retrogressive seclusion into fantastic world (Shohei Imai was the assistant director in some of Ozu’s postwar works. He hated them and asked to be relieved because “there is nothing to be learned”). Sixty years later, we see the arc of Ozu’s quest in full in much broader perspective. In that arc, Late Spring is the first true postwar Ozu and we know his trajectory was very steady and fruitful one. I think Mizoguchi is another example of having his own trajectory.

    As for pickled radish joke, my grandmother told me that first time and I heard it several times since then. And customary reply was “no, I’m just not good with knives.” And, you know, in the scene of Noriko in her wedding kimono, it reminds me that that traditional ornament/cap on her head is called “Tsuno Kakushi”, meaning to hide her horns. It is somewhat derogatory, but it means a bride is a beast with full of jealousy but we will hide it during the ceremony. In English Wikipedia article, it says “It also symbolized the bride’s resolve to become a gentle and obedient wife” with non-Japanese reference (There is no such statement in Japanese Wikipedia). I have never heard that. Instead, I remember old women usually said, “when she takes off that, she will be in full swing like me.”

    MI

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    Ugetsu

    Those are great insights MI, they need a bit of digesting. You remind me I’m commenting on things I know so little about! Its an interesting notion that Ozu is trying to bring back a pre-war sentiment – it does remind me that there is a lot of conservatism, even something of a reactionary (arguably) in Ozu’s post war work.

    Many Japanese critics pointed out that Noriko carefully admitted her sexuality to Onodera by uttering that word. If she thinks Onodera is REALLY filthy (having a mistress, for example), she wouldn’t say anything (that’s revulsion). By saying that, she admits there is a physical side of marriage and she knows it (that’s trust).

    I find this very interesting, because I’m constantly puzzling over the real meaning of this scene. I’ve always thought there was an element of self mockery in Noriko’s expression of disgust – as if she is drawing attention to her own rather chaste life.

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    Vili Maunula

    Very interesting thoughts, MurderousInk! Would you say that you see Ozu’s prewar sentiments primarily as a criticism of the occupation, a lament over the disappearing traditions, an attempt to keep those traditions alive, or something else? Or a mixture of all or some of these?

    You mention that the symbols of occupation that Ozu shows on screen are not particularly unique. However, in Late Spring he apparently had the balls to do things like film the very building where the film censors and the US army post exchange operated. While this may not have been noticed by most film goers, I assume that Ozu was making some sort of a point there.

    I still don’t get the pickle scene. 🙁

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    MurderousInk

    I read your comments in another thread, and I find it very fascinating observation.

    Discussion of symbolism is sometimes quite hard if the expression is about a particular environment, or psyche in the particular time in history. Since “Late Spring” was filmed more than half a century ago, in Japan in the state of devastation, under Occupation, we are not able to share “Zeitgeist” with the people who watched it at the time of release. In that respect, your thoughts and study in detail are extremely valuable and thought-provoking to us.

    Ozu is quintessential visual artist. I believe he uses images, colors, composition to express his world. Not his philosophy, political argument, nor even comments (in a sense of textual expression) on anything. He comments on state of lives with images.

    As for Hattori Building, I find your point as a reference to Occupation very interesting. Further I would like to add that I consider it as a symbol of survival as well. As you may already know, the building was built in 1932, before the war. Since that time, it had been a symbol of Japanese modernization and luxury. (“Westernization” of Japan had been taking place well before Occupation. It was not, has never been, is not, and will never be an opposite end of spectrum in our culture. We absorb.) In 1945, Tokyo was bombed heavily, and only handful buildings survived. Hattori Building was one of them. And because of its architectural design, which evokes the earlier era of growth, modern lives and confidence, its presence in the middle of rubble must have emphasized the continuity of our society. Yes, it was used by the Occupation Forces at the time, so the irony must have been there. I have to say I saw many visual references including films and photography of this building during the Occupation. So Ozu was not alone in this.

    Harroti Building in 1945

    Hattori Building after the war

    “Oh, that’s Hattori Building.”

    “It survived bombing, you know.”

    “Yeah, everything else was burned down, even in Ginza.”

    “But now, MacArthur has it. You cannot go in there.”

    “Shame.”

    I can imagine the Japanese audience at time would have conversation like this.

    Some may call it “criticism on Occupation”. Some may call it “confirmation of survival”. But rather than criticizing “westernization of Japan”, we Japanese were more concerned, and even now, about the loss of Japanese-ness because of Imperial Japan. Imperial Japan, especially wartime military government, used everything “Japanese” as an excuse for totalitarian regime. In the process of postwar democratization, many aspects of Japanese-ness were tarnished as wrong, inhumane, and violent. Patriotism is considered a dirty word. And if I put that into the context of Ozu postwar works, he seems to try to reclaim what he had known from childhood, something irreplaceable, something for us to identify ourselves with. He was more concerned about continuous state of Japanese mind-scape (or lack of it).

    And as I wrote before, it’s worthwhile to put this in the trajectory of body of his works. The building was featured many times in postwar Ozu works, from Late Spring to Tokyo Story to other later works with no change in appearance, when the scene introduces Ginza, Tokyo. (Oh, it stands there now, as it has been.) So in that trajectory, Ozu seems to show us something does not change. Remember, Ginza is the center of Japanese econo-cutural sphere, and it constantly changes its face.

    As for name of “Hattori”, we are entering into the realm of imagination. I would rather not to dwell on the puzzle of Japanese names too much. For example, Hattori is not uncommon name, we don’t find it particularly strange that it matches with the name of the Building. What kind of impression does it evoke on me, a Japanese? Hitorically? Hanzo Hattori, a legendary Ninja? Ryoichi Hattori, a composer of popular songs from 1927 on? Is that a suggestion for a music concert? Hmmm…. I can cook up anything. As for Kumagoro, the name of Noriko’s future husband, to us, it is too comical sounding. But was it as comical to the audience at the time? The name has been used for typically comical character in Rakugo, so I would imagine so, but really?

    Tokyo Story is one step further in this postwar Ozu trajectory. If you are interested, here is my post on this.

    Maybe I should have put this up in another thread.

    MI

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    cocoskyavitch

    What a poetic post, Murderous! I think your sensibility is one that I can appreciate without necessarily having all the cultural references in place-thank you for discussing the Hattori building.

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    Vili Maunula

    Thanks for another great response, MI! I think that this cannot be stressed enough:

    “Westernization” of Japan had been taking place well before Occupation. It was not, has never been, is not, and will never be an opposite end of spectrum in our culture. We absorb.

    I have the feeling that many western film critics, who are brilliant when it comes to film theory but less brilliant with their knowledge of Japanese cultural history, do not realise this. And sometimes I don’t realise that they don’t realise it.

    I must say however that I cannot quite believe that someone like Ozu, when writing in a character called Hattori, wouldn’t be aware of the link between that character’s name and the building (or, alternatively, when shooting the building not realising that he has a character in the story with the same name). And once he becomes aware of the link, he as a writer basically has two options, either to change the character name and get rid of the reference, or keep it, and keep the reference. After all, your work won’t be judged by what you meant to mean by things, but what meaning people will get out of it while watching your film.

    Of course, I have no idea if contemporary Japanese audiences (for whom Ozu was making the film after all) made that link. If not, then I’m really arguing about nothing.

    You also mention the need to consider Ozu’s works as a continuum. While I typically tend to take the view that a director’s intentions or his other works don’t really need to be taken into account when reading a film, with Ozu I constantly have the feeling that his works would really profit from the type of an approach that you suggest. His themes repeat, as do characters and actors, and he often seems to cyclically build on his previous films. As someone who is not familiar with all or even most of Ozu, I get the feeling that I am a little left out, not only from the inside jokes, but also from some of the meaning.

    Fortunately, that only means that I have a great journey ahead of me.

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    Ugetsu

    Vili

    I have the feeling that many western film critics, who are brilliant when it comes to film theory but less brilliant with their knowledge of Japanese cultural history, do not realise this.

    A thousand times yes – it must be the most common (and annoying) error made in analysis of almost any aspect of Japanese culture. I don’t know Japanese so I can’t comment on the primary sources, but I’ve read various suggestions that Japanese cultural critics themselves have been responsible for spreading this meme – they find it fits into an easy categorization of film (or literature, art, etc), and that it can also fit into quite a nationalistic analysis, and so the notion keeps getting resurrected, even by people who really should know better. And it then becomes ‘common knowledge’. When I’ve mentioned my love of Kurosawa to Japanese people I’ve met often the most common response is ‘oh yes, he is the most western of Japanese directors you know’.

    Its not just an annoying concept, it also leads to fundamental misunderstandings of art – the notion, for example, that Kurosawa is somehow ‘different’ from Ozu/Mizoguchi and so on, and so should be assessed or rated on a different basis. This of course leads to the concept which often underlies the notion that the more ‘Japanese’ artist is in some ways inherently superior to the ‘western influenced’ artist.

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    MurderousInk

    Ugetsu

    I don’t know Japanese so I can’t comment on the primary sources, but I’ve read various suggestions that Japanese cultural critics themselves have been responsible for spreading this meme – they find it fits into an easy categorization of film (or literature, art, etc), and that it can also fit into quite a nationalistic analysis, and so the notion keeps getting resurrected, even by people who really should know better.

    I cannot agree more.

    Some Japanese film critics and researchers put Ozu or Mizoguchi “higher” than Kurosawa, calling Kurosawa “westernized”, “politically-motivated”, “loud” etc.

    When someone visited Kurosawa’s place shortly before his death, Kurosawa was watching Ozu’s “Tokyo Story” on VHS. These critics take this incident as the evidence “Kurosawa finally ‘got’ Ozu just before his death”. I find this ridiculous. This may be somewhat oversimplification, but I would say many Japanese consider that Kurosawa was recognized mainly by American film industry (Coppola, Spielberg etc.), while Mizoguchi and Ozu were mainly praised by Europeans. For example, French Nouvelle Vague “discovered” Ozu or Mizoguchi with stark contrast against American Hollywood mainstream film-making. Or some Japanese critics like to think that way (I believe they found Ozu and Mizoguchi along with Hollywood auteur). This leads to the notion that Kurosawa’s approach is more “commercial” or “American” or “simplistic” compared to various forms of film-making found in more “sophisticated” cultures. When they say “westernized”, they really mean “Americanized”.

    In addition, there has been deep antagonistic feeling toward Kurosawa’s status in Japan. Remember, he was called “Tenno (the Emperor)”. Because he could command whatever he wanted, there were some emotional conflict among directors, actors, and other staffs during his hay day. Kurosawa and his team of actors and staffs made many offending remarks and inconsiderate attitudes toward those who around them. It seems to have left many scars on Japanese film industry as a whole. I feel some of the critical views on Kurosawa and his films might have been originated from this.

    Vili

    While I typically tend to take the view that a director’s intentions or his other works don’t really need to be taken into account when reading a film, with Ozu I constantly have the feeling that his works would really profit from the type of an approach that you suggest.

    I admire your approach and your essay really reflects it. Honestly, I believe your approach is very essential in any form of film criticism, because that’s what film criticism is for. It is about a film. Cultural implication in films is a delicate matter, nonetheless.

    Fortunately, that only means that I have a great journey ahead of me.

    Yes, it is always a treat to explore Ozu’s works. If you have not seen some of his works, early silents included, I really recommend for you to explore them. Whenever I go back and re-watch his works, there is always something new to think about. I also recommend to explore other Japanese film directors contemporary to Ozu and Kurosawa, if possible. You see, Kurosawa was the Emperor and Ozu was the top-rated director, who was always given carte blanche. They were special. For example, going back to the original theme of this thread, I am thinking about “Aoi Sanmyaku” by Tadashi Imai. It was released in the same year as “Quiet Duel” and “Late Spring”, dealing with issue of sexual relationship in postwar Japan. And it was a box-office hit. Since it was such a popular story and star vehicle material, it was remade four times. Setsuko Hara plays in it, too. I would never consider it as a masterpiece, but I guess this was the populist view on the issue at the time. I don’t know if the copy of this film is widely available overseas. If you have a chance to see it, don’t miss it.

    MI

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