three Japanese women seated on mats with tea, one wearing traditional dressalr

Late Autumn

Screening on Film
Directed by Ozu Yasujiro.
With Hara Setsuko, Tsukasa Yoko, Ryu Chishu.
Japan, 1960, 35mm, color, 128 min.
Japanese with English subtitles.
Print source: Janus Films

In direct reference to Late Spring, Ozu’s Late Autumn casts Hara Setsuko as the middle-aged widow Akiko, whose daughter Ayako (Tsukasa Yoko) refuses to get married. Convinced that Ayako will not marry until her mother remarries, three friends of Akiko’s late husband try to play matchmaker for both women. The men’s rivalry stems from their college days, when Akiko was the pretty pharmacy clerk of their dreams—a nod to Tanaka Kinuyo’s bakery girl in Where Now Are the Dreams of Youth?. In an official publicity statement for the film, Ozu stated that he wished to show how “life, which seems complex, suddenly reveals itself as very simple.” Thus, the tightly interwoven structure of the film deliberately centers the men’s gossip, their speculations ballooning into comic distortions as Ozu sustains the mystery of Akiko’s feelings about remarriage and Ayako’s own curiosity about falling in love. Coated in an Ozian emerald—with swathes of pink, red, periwinkle, and purple—the film returns Ozu to the topic of widowhood with a more refined view of solitude as a part of aging, neither a crisis to be solved nor a form of noble martyrdom. In this context, Ozu emphasizes the importance of a love that makes it possible to one day be alone.



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From the Harvard Film Archive Collection …