a line of youth and adults smiling at the ski slopesalr

Days of Youth
(Gakusei romansu / Wakaki hi)

Live Musical Accompaniment by Robert Humphreville
Screening on Film
Directed by Ozu Yasujiro.
With Yuki Ichiro, Saito Tatsuo, Matsui Junko .
Japan, 1929, 35mm, black & white, silent, 103 min.
Japanese intertitles with English subtitles.
Print source: Janus Films

Ozu’s earliest surviving film exhibits the young filmmaker’s dexterous integration of Hollywood influences into contemporary popular genres. Waseda University students Watanabe Bin (Yuki Ichiro) and Yamamoto Shuichi (Saito Tatsuo) are tired of studying; they would much rather have girlfriends. On a student ski trip, a shared crush on Chieko (Matsui Junko) sets off a battle for her attention, culminating in snowy slapstick gags filmed with pans and tilts, closeups and snow-splattered handheld shots—as David Bordwell notes, these comedic sequences are indebted to Harold Lloyd and Ernst Lubitsch. The vacation—a reverie of drinking, singing, bonding with friends, fighting over girls—ends with a confirmation of their failing grades. These are the imprudent activities implicitly invoked by nostalgic characters in films like I Flunked, But… and Late Autumn, remembered as vital times rather than regrettable mistakes.

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