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Floating Weeds

Director: Yasujiro Ozu

Japan| 1959. English subtitles. Colour. 119 minutes.


A beautiful and moving film, this is a close remake of Ozu’s earlier silent picture The Story of Floating Weeds (1934). It tells of an ageing actor (played by Ganjiro Nakamura, the star of The End of Summer) who returns with his troupe to a provincial town where he is reunited with his former mistress and their illegitimate son. The actor’s desire to be with his long-lost family enrages his present mistress, who spins an elaborate web of deceit that leads to heartbreak for them all. Even though it retains much of the comedy of the theatre scenes from the earlier film, Floating Weeds has a mellowness lacking in the fairly bitter earlier work. This is an excellent example of the combination of rigour and playfulness to be found in Ozu’s mature films. It also has glowing colour photography by the great Kazuo Miyagawa, who had worked for Akira Kurosawa (Rashomon) and Kenji Mizoguchi (Ugetsu monogatari) but only made this one film with Ozu.

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