Reflection On: Early Summer

Posted on October 21, 2010 
Filed under Uncategorized

To begin, I was extremely disappointed in this choice of film to review our Japanese section of the course.  Last year, I actually had the opportunity to study abroad in Japan with an in depth look at their film industry.  The course I took not only studied Japanese film history but also allowed the students to meet some of the biggest directors and other creatives in their industry.

The film Early Summer was extremely boring in my opinion and was completely dragged out.  I realize that Ozu is someone who does not find plot as a necessary aspect of film, but there was certainly an attempt at one in this movie and it lacked any sort of creativity.  I understand that this was his point but to make a film that is 2+ hours and simply follows the lives of a few families who do not really have much going on besides a marriage crisis seems obscure to me.

Occasionally I see the point in why films are considered classics even if I do not enjoy them, such as “Birth of a Nation,” “Chinatown,” “Grapes of Wrath,” etc… However with the amount of movies coming out at this time in Japan and the numerous ones that actually could be considered classics, I am left wondering whether the acclaim was due more to the guy who directed it rather than to the actual context of the film.

After spending some time in Japan and taking a good look at their industry I have seen some films that I really consider great.  One of my favorite directors of all time (any movies, not only Japanese) is Seijun Suzuki.  Suzuki directed in an erratic manner with often surreal and non-accepted styles.  He got in major trouble with his studios and eventually ended up being dismissed and could not make films for numerous years.  The first film I ever saw by Suzuki was “Gate of Flesh,” which I highly recommend to everyone.  Further more if you are a fan of Quentin Tarantino’s films, I’m sure you will love Suzuki.  He is someone that Tarantino has admittedly taken many techniques from and throughout Suzuki’s films you will find yourself saying “wow that’s so Tarantino.”  They are not only fun and riveting but also in-depth and creative.  I could go on for days about Suzuki but I will end here.

I think the reason I was looking forward to this class was because of the amount that I have studied Japanese film.  They have such a rich history there and have produced so many great films that we could have had the option of watching.  From Seven Samurai to Godzilla, to Gate of Flesh and Princess Mononoke it really is an endless list.

I was also surprised by the fact that we did not even briefly review over the Anime culture.  Although I am not interested in Anime (although there are some really great Anime movies) it is such a HUGE part of Japanese culture.  In addition, the transfer that Anime has made into the U.S. mainstream culture is fairly significant.  A few that I would recommend, to anyone, not just anime lovers is “Spirited Away,” and “Princess Mononoke.”

Anyways, I know long posts look intimidating and get boring to read and I could seriously write a complete analysis of my viewpoints on the Japanese film industry (I actually have already lol).  But if you have any questions or comments would love to hear them!

Just a note….the reason that I did not post on the film “Out of the Past” is because I truly did not enjoy it and am not a fan of Film Noir whatsoever.  Therefore I decided to keep my opinions generally to myself since my outlook is somewhat biased on these types of films.  I do believe they can portray great artistic traits from the directors but as a whole I don’t find this style to my liking.


10 Responses to “Reflection On: Early Summer”

  1.  shayna on October 21st, 2010 1:51 pm

    I agree with you when you mentioned that the film was boring. I felt that it did need a plot to make it a bit more interesting, and I guess its because thats what I’m used to. I’m not familiar with Japanese Film but I’m sure that there were others a lot more interesting that we could have watched.

  2.  jbmedst144 on October 21st, 2010 7:20 pm

    I agree this film was very boring. Even though the plot was pretty easy to follow, I found it hard to stay focused on the movie. Maybe another film would have sparked my interest in Japanese films but this one really did’t do it for me.

  3.  abethon on October 22nd, 2010 12:46 am

    Well I really hope it doesn’t turn you off of Japanese films! There are so many great ones that will certainly interest you!

  4.  Amy Herzog on October 23rd, 2010 1:56 pm

    Hi Adam,
    You don’t need to hold back– tell us how your really felt about the film 🙂

    First of all, I do want to say that not every film/style we cover will please everyone, so some misses are to be expected based on individual taste. And I did make a conscious decision in showing Ozu to pick a style of film that was extremely influential, but one that the average film student might be less likely to encounter on their own. The benefit to this is exposing you all to something new; the downside is that these types of films aren’t as accessible or entertaining.

    I’m also a huge Suzuki fan, and love anime, but this class is dealing with a time period (pre-1970) where these styles hadn’t really established themselves.

    I do hope you’ll take advantage of the extra credit opportunity to post and write about a clip from a film you’d like us to watch and respond to.

    And by the way, thanks for your thoughtful comments on other people’s posts on the film, even those with different view points.

  5.  abethon on October 23rd, 2010 8:45 pm

    Thanks for the comment professor!

    And I do plan on doing the extra credit as well.

    It actually completely slipped my mind about this class being pre-1970. It’s never a waste watching any sort of film….can always open your eyes to new perspectives 🙂

  6.  Amy Herzog on October 23rd, 2010 10:09 pm

    I knew this film wouldn’t necessarily be a crowd-pleaser, and I appreciated your honesty! Glad you kept an open mind, and I look forward to reading more about your experience studying film in Japan– what an amazing opportunity!

  7.  Steven Goffstein on October 24th, 2010 5:51 pm

    You know, now that I think about it, you’re right. The plot wasn’t very creative, and it was somewhat boring.
    I’m a big fan of anime, and I would’ve loved it if we discussed anime in class. But, as the professor said, the class is pre-1970, and anime didn’t really become a big part of Japanese culture until the 1980’s.

  8.  kris89 on October 25th, 2010 12:55 pm

    Hey Adam I loved that your so opinionated and know what you like. You definitely have more of an advantage towards outlook on the Japanese film genre since you went to Japan and engaged in the culture and had the opportunities to see a broader range of films. I def differ with your perspective on Early Summer, I really enjoyed this “plot lacking” narrative as you put it but I think another film could have been shown to really catch our attention about Japanese cinematography. I also agree that Anime has definitely had a major impact in America and that should have been discussed as part of the lecture to give us more insight into Japanese culture. See you in class =)

  9.  anroy on October 26th, 2010 11:42 am

    Do all the movies needs to be entertaining? I think the movie should be judged based on its context,time period and the plot. Early Summer is a completely different movie that the contemporary audience is used to. If we see the movie ae a symbol of a culture, I think the film wouldn’t be very boring.

  10.  abethon on October 31st, 2010 1:48 pm

    I do understand what your saying but I think it was more of the directors way of shooting a film rather than a symbol of their culture. In Japan, there were many films during this time period that came out and showed an extensive history of not only the background of Japan but the current status as well. To be quite honest, I actually believe that this film was one that was meant to shield the mainstream audience from the true Japanese culture. I think it was extremely influenced by the American standards that were implemented on Japanese film after the war.

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