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Late Spring: About that vase…..

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    I was hoping to post something in detail on this topic, but the month has been running away with me, and I managed to misplace my Late Spring dvd! So my apologies in advance for what is really more of a top of my head ramble than a proper posting (and I may even have some details here wrong as I can’t run that scene through again, I’m writing from memory).

    In much of the commentary on Late Spring there is much discussion of the famous scene in the Inn where father and daughter spend a last holiday together. Noriko’s expression famously changes from an enigmatic smile to an equally enigmatic sadness, inter-cut with that ‘vase’.

    Now the curious thing is that I read several times about this vase without ever once noticing it – in fact, I was looking at the background, the bamboo shoots silhouetted by the screens, not the vase in the foreground! Which leads me to speculate that it isn’t a shot of a vase at all, it was simply intended as a point of view shot, indicating what Noriko could see from her pillow – and this sight sent a wave of melancholy over her.

    Like so much of the film, it seems to revel in the ambiguity of Noriko’s inner feelings – perhaps making the point that her sadness and turmoil are internal to her, and cannot be explained away by the external factors of her personal situation. But many commentators on the film seem determined to read in a precise metaphorical meaning to the vase, and to those expressions on her face. But I do wonder whether they go too far – that the entire point of the film (and Norikos predicament), is that some things cannot be explained – we can look out a window and see something of beauty that sets off a deep sadness within us – such is the nature and mystery of life. There is no ‘right’ way to life a life, or to decide on marriage or not (or any other major crossroads). We have, perhaps, a right to feel sadness at such things without expecting sympathy or solutions.

    Or maybe that vase does mean something after all…..



    Ugetsu – I just rewatched the movie in preparation for getting Stray Dog in exchange, and I agree that it’s a POV shot. I don’t think there’s any greater meaning to it than that.

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