End of Summer, The

Director: Yasujiro Ozu

Japan| 1961. English subtitles. Colour. 103 minutes.

One of Ozu’s few colour films, The End of Summer is a family drama in which old traditions are confronted with the realities of life in post-war Japan. The Kohayagawa family have been engaged in the manufacture of sake for generations. Now the pressure of twentieth-century business competition has become so keen that the family, or rather their patriarch, Manbei (Ganjiro Nakamura), has been forced to consider a merger with a larger winery. Manbei is an incorrigible old codger who attempts to recapture something of the gaiety of his youth. When he decides to take up with his former mistress, his three daughters-one a widow about to remarry, another engaged and the third married-become extremely upset. When he has a sudden heart attack, however, recriminations are set aside. He recovers and resumes his philandering, but soon he is stricken again. This is another of Ozu’s masterful studies of the decline of the extended bourgeois family, which is portrayed with a strong sense of regret. At the centre of the film is Nakamura’s wonderful performance as Manbei, whose adventures introduce a new twist into the Ozu commonplace of the dissolution of male authority.

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