Story of Floating Weeds

Story of Floating Weeds

Rating: 7/10
Year: 1934
Genre: Drama (Silent)
Director: Yasujiro Ozu
Cast: Takeshi Sakamoto, Choko Iida, Hideo Mitsui

Yasujiro Ozu's films always concentrate on the daily lives and interpersonal relationships of the members of lower-middle-class families. It seems that this film is one of the typical examples that matches the above generalization of Ozu's films.

The story of the film is about the aging master of a troupe and his relationship with his son and his mistress. After his departure from his mistress twenty years ago, Kihachi (Takeshi Sakamoto) wants to carry out the responsibility of a father when he returns. However, life is not as easy as he expects...

The most impressive thing of the film is Ozu's humane attitude toward the characters of the film. By that I do not mean his attitude toward the protagonist Kihachi and his son Shinkichi only, it is rather his attitude toward other characters, that is, how Ozu also commiserates with the supposed antagonist of the film, Kihachi's wife Otsune. In a typical melodrama, the antagonist is always the one who receives certain kind of punishment at the end, but in this film, Kihachi forgives Otsune, they team up again and start afresh at the end. Moreover, Otoki, the girl who is bribed by Otsune to seduce Shinkichi, is also forgiven and taken care of. It seems that there is no definite evil characters in the film.

The interpersonal relationships of the characters are not fixed at all. They are rather floating, as the film title suggests. They are changing and evolving, that resembles the complexity of the interaction of people in real life. It is also this portrayal of complex interaction that generates dramatic tension and allows the characters to grow and transcend their mentality and relationships to a new level. In this film, although the beginning and the end seems similar, Kihachi remains to be a traveling entertainer, Shinkichi and her mother remains in the town, Otsune follows Kihachi again, the relationships among the characters are no longer the same. Therefore I think it is wrong for some people to say that Ozu's films lack progression. Although the characters do not change physically, the transcendence of the relationships and the psychology of the characters are so rich and elaborate that make his films much more interesting for us to review over and over again.

16mm (US version) - I watched this film in a private 16mm screening event. The film itself is in black and white, and the 16mm print is probably an old print. It is definitely not in its excellent qualities. I haven't checked out if any other versions of the film is available. I will appreciate anyone who can enlighten me about that.

Cool guy(s) - Takeshi Sakamoto

Reviewed by: Kantorates