Sunday, 25 May 2014


Late Spring is the title of a 1949 B&W Japanese film directed by a man called Ozu. We watched it last night on TV. I have seen it before. When I lived in London, when I was interested in Art Cinema, went on courses, watched Raise the Red Lantern and obscure stuff by Derek Jarman I sat through it bored and puzzled; it went completely over my head. I had never been to Japan then; didn’t have any understanding of Japanese traditions or culture, couldn’t even begin to embrace a 1949 B&W film in which nothing happens.
Sight and Sound rate it as the 15th greatest film of all time.
Briefly, it is about Noriko who is twenty-seven years old and still living with her widowed father. Everybody tries to talk her into marrying but Noriko wants to stay at home caring for her father.
Rivetting stuff? But it is, it really is. Nothing is told, all is shown. In the opening scene, she is wearing traditional Japanese dress. But pay attention; she is carrying a [Western] handbag. And is that fixed smile she wears for most of the first half of the film genuine? Or is it something else? Someone [Adam Mars Jones, who is a man and a writer I greatly admire] actually wrote a book about this film called, Noriko Smiling. I’ll say no more.
My Creative Writing Tutor, John Seymour went on and on at us endlessly about. ‘Show not Tell’. Both as a reader or as a member of the cinema audience it means you have to work harder. Remember things; why did he say that? Why would she do that? Why does Isabel jump back in the taxi at Waverley? The pleasures of both reading and watching the telly are so much greater when you have worked it out for yourself.

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