Yasujiro Ozu’s Noriko Trilogy
All shown in Morley Lecture Hall. Admission to each is $10, CMA members $7.
The three films that the great Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu (1903–1963) made between 1949 and 1953 constitute his most enduring achievement. Dubbed the “Noriko Trilogy” after the name of the female protagonist in all three films, the movies (Late Spring, Early Summer, Tokyo Story) co-star the two most familiar members of Ozu’s longstanding stock company: Chishu Ryu (1904–1993), the director’s favorite actor, who appeared in 52 of Ozu’s 54 films; and Setsuko Hara (1920–2015), who plays Noriko in all three parts of the trilogy. Hara acted in only six Ozu films during her career—but her instant identification with the director is due to the quality of her roles and performances, not their quantity.
Hara plays a different Noriko in each of the three movies. In the first two, she is a young, happily single woman whose family wants to marry her off, against her wishes. In Tokyo Story, she is a young widow with no interest in remarrying. Noriko’s gentleness and beatific smile endeared her to Japanese audiences (who regarded Hara as the “eternal virgin”), and her graceful acceptance of life’s disappointments made her seem wise beyond her years.
In this poignant and piercingly beautiful masterpiece, an elderly widower attempts to marry off his devoted grown daughter, who is reluctant to leave him. CMA curator of film John Ewing leads a discussion after Tuesday’s screening.
Members of a three-generation Japanese family try to marry off a productive, happily independent, twentysomething “old maid,” but she has her own ideas.
An elderly husband and wife travel to Tokyo to visit their grown children, but soon realize that their presence is a burden to their offspring. This moving classic is widely regarded as Ozu’s greatest film and, beyond that, one of the best movies ever made.