Jump to content

Floating Weeds


Recommended Posts

Floating Weeds is a film about revisiting the past, which is convenient since that is exactly what Ozu was doing, remaking his 1934 silent film A Story of Floating Weeds.

The story involves an itinerant acting troupe (the floating weeds of the title) coming to a seaside village for the first time in many years. However, it's evident even from the first shot of the troupe, trying to keep cool as their boat arrives in port, that they won't have much success in rousing a great reception from this quiet little town. Ozu's objective and static camera only serves to heighten the sense of listlessness as the troupe walks through the streets announcing its presence with a feeble parade. Everyone is just too hot, and the instruments constantly seem as if they are distant--not the recipe for excitement.

The leader of the troupe, an older man named Komajuro, has been to the village before. In fact, he's fathered a son there, a boy now nearly grown who believes the old actor to be his uncle. The old man would prefer to keep his identity a secret, hoping that his son would attain a higher position in society than what a poor traveling actor could offer.

I was struck especially by the tone of the film, which for the first half-hour or so has a decidedly comic tone to it. And while the drama then kicks in for the middle hour or so, the final thirty minutes lighten somewhat, bringing a synthesis of comedy and tragedy in the film's final, masterful scene.

Has anyone else seen this? What are your thoughts? Do you find it a worthy addition to the 2010 Top 100?

Oh, and a link to the Ozu thread, where there is no discussion of Floating Weeds.

All great art is pared down to the essential.
--Henri Langlois

 

Movies are not barium enemas, you're not supposed to get them over with as quickly as possible.

--James Gray

Link to post
Share on other sites

I wrote the Top 100 blurb for it, and in that I mentioned a lot of what you did here. It's a solid movie, and one of the better Ozu I've seen, though I wouldn't have put it as high (#18) as it ended up on the list.

Ah, a nice write up there, Tyler. All the Ozu I've seen I've liked a great deal, but yeah, it probably is a bit high at 18, at least after one viewing. I'm a Late Spring man myself.

All great art is pared down to the essential.
--Henri Langlois

 

Movies are not barium enemas, you're not supposed to get them over with as quickly as possible.

--James Gray

Link to post
Share on other sites

What's remarkable about the film is the balance between its objectivity (static camera 'tableau'-style) and fairness for showing all sides: of characters, of the situation, of the argument to be made for who is right between the generations.

It's also a movie that doesn't foist any principles or solutions onto the viewer -- rare in typical movies, more common in the kind that appeared in 2010's Top 100.

Why I find it so spiritually affecting is its specific time and place and characters; balanced, again with the balance, with a universal kind of insight -- people who've never been to Japan, never had a child, and never acted can relate somehow. Not in a "me, too" sort of way, but in an "I understand" and "I feel strongly about this story." Maybe this is very general criticism, but it's the way I see the movie's greatness.

Also: that kind of universal insight isn't forced or even obvious, I think. It's _felt_ and affecting, but not direct. It's more common to see films like this as a parable or moral-building story. But Ozu is smarter, or better (or something), than that. Like Tokyo Story, it's a movie of great sadness, told in everyday pacing. Spiritual feeling, like in real life, is hardly a quantifiable thing; and usually appears in unlikely and hard-to-understand places. This movie doesn't attempt to _do_ any of that, but pulls it off anyway. Like my grandmother used to say: a miracle on celluloid.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...