Late Spring [UK Release] Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: Japanese LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/16-bit)
- Subtitles: English
- Region: B (Region-Locked)
- Classification: U
- Discs: 2 (1x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
- Studio: BFI
- Blu-ray Release Date: July 19, 2010
- RRP: £19.99
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Yasujiro Ozu’s 1949 film Late Spring is one of the filmmaker’s masterpieces of reflection on the changing mores of the Japanese social structure and the first of his films to introduce his Noriko (Setsuko Hara). Like in Early Summer, Late Spring finds Noriko settled in her single life. She’s 27 and she lives at home with her father, the Professor Sukichi Somiya (Chishû Ryû), taking care of his needs. But her family and friends think it’s time for her to marry and they set upon a plan to match her up with someone and to convince her it is time.
The film is filled with Ozu’s post-war mannerisms, juxtapositions of the modern and the ancient in the form of mixed traditional and western garb and the clashing of Eastern and Western culture as Noriko wafts her way through mazes of Coca-Cola adverts and Ozu’s camera flashes on Japanese rock gardens. There is a tranquil nature to all of Ozu’s films and that is present here, despite its undercurrent of a culture falling to pieces. It always seems to fall to bits so politely. Perhaps there is something to be said there, that major upheavals don’t always happen with a bang, but sometimes with a whimper.
The disc also contains Ozu’s depression-era film The Only Son (1936). It was the first of his “talkies,” although it came a full five years after the first talking picture appeared in Japan, such was Ozu’s stubbornness against adopting the new format. The film also marked a turning point in the filmmakers work. He turned away from his Americanized films, Westerns and the like, and took on a strict, Japanese focus.
The Only Son clearly focused on the struggles of the Japanese working class, the shimmering golden city of Tokyo held up as a promised land in the distance we never see, but all the characters seem to dream of.
Master materials for Late Spring and The Only Son were provided to the BFI by the Criterion Collection; picture and audio restoration completed by the BFI.
Both films appear on this Blu-ray release in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio in AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodings. While everything maintains a filmic appearance, there is a lot of fluctuation in image quality here. A lot of source damage, scratches, dirt, tramlines, and the like are still visible. Black levels flicker from deep to greyish often.
The audio is the original mono and provided as PCM 2.0 (48kHz/16-bit). There’s not much to say about it other than, while it provides discernible dialogue, it does sound a bit scratchy at times, especially the score, which is a bit buried shrill sounding.
Other than containing Ozu’s depression-era film The Only Son and a copy of the standard definition DVD, there are no extras in this package besides the usually excellent booklet from BFI.
- Booklet: Fully illustrated booklet contains a newly commissioned essay from James Bell (Sight & Sound) and an Ozu biography by Tony Rayns.
The Definitive Word
This double feature, dual format release from the BFI acts as a superb entry into the unique filmmaking world of Japanese icon Yosujiro Ozu. If you can play Region B coded Blu-rays, then you owe it to yourself to pick up these Ozu Collection discs from the BFI as they hit the shelves.
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