Cine Gazing: Early Spring by Yasujirō Ozu (1956)

DoP: Yûharu Atsuta

Preceding Malle's «Ascenceur pour l'échafaud» as well as Truffaut's «Les Quatre cent coups» by two years, Early Spring foreshadowed the move towards the intimate, quotidian microcosmic film narratives that would become the keystone of the European "New Wave" cinematic movements of the 1960's; effectively washing over the traditional storytelling styles and themes; and moreover, quintessentially redefine the quality of acting, the type of stories told, push the boundaries of the medium and renew the visual presentation of mainstream films from then on out. But every fire has a spark. And watching Early Spring as well as other later Ozu works, it doesn't take much to see that they provided many sparks of brilliance that helped feed that nascent, revolutionary fire. 

The use of gaze, how it is averted, how it is cast, is outstanding in its complexities and how beautifully it's used to add another layer of narrative and emotional conveyance. The phrase "subtle yet palpable" best describes these visual cues. It's a thing of beauty, like witnessing an harmonious, impromptu dance, or a seemingly-perfect asymmetric composition. Yasujirō Ozu is one of my favorite directors and Early Spring is a good example as to the stories he chooses to tell and how he chooses to tell them that is so special and touching in the beauty.

N.B.: Running commentary captions included. May contain spoilers. 

The morning after their illicit rendezvous, she gazes at him bewitched by the gauzy glowing blur cast by post-coital bliss.

The morning after their illicit rendezvous, she gazes at him bewitched by the gauzy glowing blur cast by post-coital bliss.

He gazes, realizing he has lost the enthusiasm of her admiration. 

He gazes, realizing he has lost the enthusiasm of her admiration. 

Here, a loveless marriage where the parties cannot even bear to face one another. 

Here, a loveless marriage where the parties cannot even bear to face one another. 

The death of wifehood is welcomed, staring blankly upwards, on a lonely night full of doubt, suspicion, and resentment. 

The death of wifehood is welcomed, staring blankly upwards, on a lonely night full of doubt, suspicion, and resentment. 

A conclusion of sorts is established by looking at one another; signifing the split of two separate individual lives bridged by the unspoken bond of shared memories.

A conclusion of sorts is established by looking at one another; signifing the split of two separate individual lives bridged by the unspoken bond of shared memories.