Early Spring


1h 48m 1956
Early Spring

Brief Synopsis

Boredom at work and at home propels a young clerk into an affair with the office flirt. When his wife discovers his indiscretion, she leaves him.

Film Details

Also Known As
Soshun
Release Date
1956
Distribution Company
New Yorker Films; Shochiku Company, Ltd.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 48m

Synopsis

Boredom at work and at home propels a young clerk into an affair with the office flirt. When his wife discovers his indiscretion, she leaves him.

Videos

Movie Clip

Early Spring (1956) -- (Movie Clip) The Garbage Man Never Comes Opening with static shots of grim scenes of modern industrial Japan, we meet Masako (Chikage Awashima) and husband Shoji (Ryo Ikebe), then briefly their neighbors the Aokis (Teiji Takahashi, Takako Fujino), before the work day begins, in Yasujiro Ozu's Early Spring, 1956.
Early Spring (1956) -- (Movie Clip) Everyone's Dissatisfied Our hero, Tokyo office worker Shoji (Ryo Ikebe) and his quasi-mentor Onodera (Chishu Ryu), in town though he's long been farmed out to the boondocks, visit ex-colleague Kawai (So Yamamura), who opened his own coffee shop, in Yasujiro Ozu's Early Spring, 1956.
Early Spring (1956) -- (Movie Clip) Where's The Wife? The gang from the office on the weekend hike they planned, married Shoji (Ryo Ikebe) and Chiyo (Keiko Kishi), nicknamed "Goldfish" and the well-known office flirt, pair off, with outwardly innocent conversation, in Yasujiro Ozu's Early Spring, 1956.
Early Spring (1956) -- (Movie Clip) Why Is He So Jealous? Still giddy after her generally above-board visit over the weekend with married Shoji (Ryo Ikebe), office flirt Chiyo (Keiko Kishi) makes a colleague (Chieko Nakakita) wonder, then meets him for a somewhat secret lunch, in Yasujiro Ozu's Early Spring, 1956.
Early Spring (1956) -- (Movie Clip) No Need To Worry Masako (Chikage Awashima) is at home being reassured by her mother (Kumeko Hurabe) that she need not worry about her husband Shoji (Ryo Ikebe) staying out all night, though we know he's just consummated an extra-marital affair, in Yasujiro Ozu's Early Spring, 1956.

Film Details

Also Known As
Soshun
Release Date
1956
Distribution Company
New Yorker Films; Shochiku Company, Ltd.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 48m

Articles

Early Spring


Prolific director Yasujiro Ozu, who made 54 films between 1927 and his death in 1963, has been called the "most Japanese" of all that nation's directors, and that may be one of the reasons why his films were little seen in the West until the 1970s. Yet his themes are universal: Family, work, class, conformity, and--in his postwar films--the evolution of all of these as Japan became one of the world's greatest economies.

In the 1930s, Ozu had made several "salaryman films," referring to stories about white collar employees who worked for large corporations and helped oversee Japan's modernization as it evolved from an agrarian economy to an industrial one. Early Spring (1956) returns to the salaryman genre, examining the life of Shoji, a restless young World War II veteran. Bored by his job and his marriage, he embarks on an affair with a perky typist, seeks diversion by partying with co-workers, reminisces at drunken reunions with his war comrades, and neglects his equally restless wife.

The provocative situations and focus on younger characters in Early Spring were in part imposed on Ozu by his longtime studio, Shochiku. The studio's supremacy was being challenged by science fiction schlock, rock and roll films, and erotically-charged dramas being turned out by its upstart rivals. Directives went out to Shochiku filmmakers: More sex, more youth, more big stars. Early Spring has all that; but it also has Ozu's characteristic formalism, elliptical style, and deceptive simplicity. His distinctive visual style--low camera angles, static camera, carefully composed shots of building exteriors or landscapes as transitional devices, lack of dissolves--serves the story of urban malaise well. As one older character on the brink of retirement says late in the film, "That's what we've got waiting for us--just disillusion and loneliness. I worked 31 long years to find out life is but an empty dream." Ozu himself said of Early Spring, "I tried to portray the pathos of the salaryman's life as society undergoes transformation."

But the film is not entirely bleak. The workers share a genuine camaraderie, there are comic moments, and the young woman with whom Shoji has his extramarital fling (Keiko Kishi) is spunky, lively and independent. Her spirit has not yet been broken by the oppressiveness of the office worker's existence.

One of the key relationships in Early Spring is between Shoji and his mentor, Onodera, played by one of Ozu's favorite actors, Chishu Ryu, who appeared in 52 of Ozu's 54 films. Onodera has been transferred by the company to the provinces. The dignity and wisdom with which he accepts his fate provide a model for Shoji, and Onodera also becomes a catalyst for Shoji's eventual reconciliation with his wife.

Lesser known than other films about the lives of white collar workers such as The Crowd (1928) and The Apartment (1960), Early Spring deserves to be ranked among the classics of the genre. When it was finally released in the United States nearly two decades after it was made, critics commented on Early Spring's continued relevance. Nora Sayre wrote in the New York Times in September of 1974 that the film "Feels utterly fresh and contemporary. This modest classic also conveys the claustrophobia of office life better than any other film I've seen....Ozu finds dramatic depths in quiet, ordinary lives."

Director: Yasujiro Ozu
Screenplay: Kogo Noda, Yasujiro Ozu
Cinematography: Yuharu Atsuta
Editor: Yoshiyasu Hamamura
Art Direction: Tatsuo Hamada
Music: Kojun Saito
Cast: Ryo Ikebe (Shoji Sugiyama), Chikage Awashima (Masako Sugiyama), Keiko Kishi (Chiyo Kaneko, nicknamed "Goldfish"), Teiji Takahashi (Taizo Aoki), Chishu Ryu (Kiichi Onodera), So Yamamura (Yutaka Kawai), Haruko Sugimura (Tamako), Takako Fujino (Terumi Aoki).
BW-144m.

by Margarita Landazuri

Early Spring

Early Spring

Prolific director Yasujiro Ozu, who made 54 films between 1927 and his death in 1963, has been called the "most Japanese" of all that nation's directors, and that may be one of the reasons why his films were little seen in the West until the 1970s. Yet his themes are universal: Family, work, class, conformity, and--in his postwar films--the evolution of all of these as Japan became one of the world's greatest economies. In the 1930s, Ozu had made several "salaryman films," referring to stories about white collar employees who worked for large corporations and helped oversee Japan's modernization as it evolved from an agrarian economy to an industrial one. Early Spring (1956) returns to the salaryman genre, examining the life of Shoji, a restless young World War II veteran. Bored by his job and his marriage, he embarks on an affair with a perky typist, seeks diversion by partying with co-workers, reminisces at drunken reunions with his war comrades, and neglects his equally restless wife. The provocative situations and focus on younger characters in Early Spring were in part imposed on Ozu by his longtime studio, Shochiku. The studio's supremacy was being challenged by science fiction schlock, rock and roll films, and erotically-charged dramas being turned out by its upstart rivals. Directives went out to Shochiku filmmakers: More sex, more youth, more big stars. Early Spring has all that; but it also has Ozu's characteristic formalism, elliptical style, and deceptive simplicity. His distinctive visual style--low camera angles, static camera, carefully composed shots of building exteriors or landscapes as transitional devices, lack of dissolves--serves the story of urban malaise well. As one older character on the brink of retirement says late in the film, "That's what we've got waiting for us--just disillusion and loneliness. I worked 31 long years to find out life is but an empty dream." Ozu himself said of Early Spring, "I tried to portray the pathos of the salaryman's life as society undergoes transformation." But the film is not entirely bleak. The workers share a genuine camaraderie, there are comic moments, and the young woman with whom Shoji has his extramarital fling (Keiko Kishi) is spunky, lively and independent. Her spirit has not yet been broken by the oppressiveness of the office worker's existence. One of the key relationships in Early Spring is between Shoji and his mentor, Onodera, played by one of Ozu's favorite actors, Chishu Ryu, who appeared in 52 of Ozu's 54 films. Onodera has been transferred by the company to the provinces. The dignity and wisdom with which he accepts his fate provide a model for Shoji, and Onodera also becomes a catalyst for Shoji's eventual reconciliation with his wife. Lesser known than other films about the lives of white collar workers such as The Crowd (1928) and The Apartment (1960), Early Spring deserves to be ranked among the classics of the genre. When it was finally released in the United States nearly two decades after it was made, critics commented on Early Spring's continued relevance. Nora Sayre wrote in the New York Times in September of 1974 that the film "Feels utterly fresh and contemporary. This modest classic also conveys the claustrophobia of office life better than any other film I've seen....Ozu finds dramatic depths in quiet, ordinary lives." Director: Yasujiro Ozu Screenplay: Kogo Noda, Yasujiro Ozu Cinematography: Yuharu Atsuta Editor: Yoshiyasu Hamamura Art Direction: Tatsuo Hamada Music: Kojun Saito Cast: Ryo Ikebe (Shoji Sugiyama), Chikage Awashima (Masako Sugiyama), Keiko Kishi (Chiyo Kaneko, nicknamed "Goldfish"), Teiji Takahashi (Taizo Aoki), Chishu Ryu (Kiichi Onodera), So Yamamura (Yutaka Kawai), Haruko Sugimura (Tamako), Takako Fujino (Terumi Aoki). BW-144m. by Margarita Landazuri

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Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1994

Released in United States Fall September 1974

Released in United States 1994 (Shown in New York City (Walter Reade) as part of program "Cinema's Sacred Treasure: The Films of Yasujiro Ozu" January 21 - February 16, 1994.)

Released in United States Fall September 1974