Ozu 1951’s film Early Summer is a family drama which follows the story of a 28 year old woman and her family as events unfold leading to the family breaking up. The director relied heavily on cinematography to tell his story. The plot was very settle and nearly non-existent but Ozu still managed to make us connect with the characters and the settings. In my opinion, this was the most realistic film we’ve seen so far. But I’ll discuss that in my blog of the film.  Ozu’s unique style of framing gave us a different perspective than the previous films. For one, it makes no use of the 180 degree system and his fames had a unique balance. It was not symmetrical but everything seemed in place. For my analysis I’ve decided to use the scene in which the grandfather leaves the house to go to the store.

This scene has a total of 14 shots and very minimal dialogue. What I like most about this scene and mostly the rest of the film is that you can really believe that these people are ling those moments day to day. There’s nothing extraordinary or weird going on, this is their life and we’re just dropping in to see it. This scene in particular has no camera movement what so ever. The way the first 4 shots are set up in the house is if Ozu place the camera on top of a table and didn’t touch it. With the exception of 3 MS, the rest of scenes are composed of LS and VLS. This framing which is almost the complete opposite of Orson Welles’ style puts everyone on an equal plane. I’m still not sure whether this is in order to let us decide who’s dominant and influence or if all the characters truly are equal.

Going back to the camera placement, it gives us the feeling that we’re in the same place as the characters looking at what’s going on. At first I couldn’t figure out why but then I realized that when we see people (unless we’re really close) we see their full body most of the time like a LS OR VLS. That feeling kept the film’s sense of realism. Adding to this realism was the silence or lack of dialogue. Family doesn’t always have to be portrayed as chatty in order to be believable. Family, especially those who live together are often in silence even when they’re in the same room. They might talk when they first see each other but then go off into silence. Even as I write this now, my brother is in the room with me and we haven’t said a word to each other in 30 minutes.

Early Summer is a film which set out to tell a simple story and be as real as possible and yet be artistic. The film succeeded in all fronts in my opinion. I was actually surprised that I enjoyed the film since I prefer dialogue heavy films like any Quentin Tarantino film. The framing of the shots are what really struck me. The uniquely balanced composition and camera position really gave the film its personality. I look forward to seeing more of his films.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Spam prevention powered by Akismet

Skip to toolbar