An Autumn Afternoon06 Jun 2016
I caught up with this Ozu classic at a revival screening this week. The story can largely be summed up in a sentence. But one doesn’t go into a film like this for a heavily plotted story. The pleasures of this film are almost entirely in the directing and editing.
The directing and camera work features one beautiful frame after another. The blocking and composition of each scene was enough to capture my attention on their own. Sometimes the dialog and action took me away from admiring how beautiful each shot was (which is admittedly a strange thing to feel while watching a movie). The film was almost entirely shot indoors but the 3 or 4 outdoor scenes were beautiful too. The colors that poured into the frame stood in stark contrast to the muted colors indoors.
The editing was also something to marvel. Very few scenes featuring dialog showed both characters on screen at the same time. Instead, the viewers were given the lay of the scene at the onset and then expected to follow the conversation through cuts and edits. The editing also established and maintained a slow, deliberate pace. Each sentence was book-ended with empty space. Each scene was book ended with space. Like the directing, I could’ve spent every scene thinking solely about editing choices.
I have yet to mention anything about the plot or characters. These parts of the film weren’t nearly as ambitious or successful as the directing and editing but they weren’t neglected either. The story was simple, the protagonists went through change, and there was emotional weight to their journey. Just enough to keep my attention as an audience member. But if I had it my way, I might just watch this movie a few times with no sound. Just for those beautiful frames.