Sunday, July 29, 2012

#446: An Autumn Afternoon

(Yasujiro Ozu, 1962)

So, can I just watch An Autumn Afternoon every day for the rest of my life. Actually, can I just be inserted into An Autumn Afternoon so I can live inside of it?

This movie is SO GREAT. I love pretty much everything about it. The performances are beautiful and moving. The cinematography is impeccable. The story is both sociologically fascinating and emotionally engaging. The music is great, it's funny - I could go on. But what I love the most about the film is how much it feels like an Ozu film, yet how subtly but profoundly Ozu was able to ease himself into the modern era. An Autumn Afternoon still has the visual iconography of Ozu's prime, but it also has his most overtly sexual humor, his most complex exploration of the Japanese family culture, and a truly profound thread of reflection about Japan's modern transition from imperial aggressor (and defeated empire) to modern economic powerhouse. Along the way, Ozu covers nearly all of the themes he explored in his best movies - the generation gap, the parent-child relationship, the evolving modernity of Japan, the shifting capitalistic attitudes, the passage of time, the balance of technology and industry with nature and humanity.

As noted in Criterion's essay, Ozu didn't intend for An Autumn Afternoon to be his last film. But it's hard to think of a better final film from any master. Unquestionably a masterpiece, An Autumn Afternoon might even rival Ozu's better-known classics for me as the pinnacle of his career. Essential viewing.

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