Japanese Cinema - #4: Floating Weeds

I watched Ozu's remake of his own film, Floating Weeds (you can read my post on the original here). This one is now in color and has sound, but overall, it's pretty much the same story. In fact, the story is almost exactly the same, and I found I liked this film less than the original. I just felt that the characters were deeper, the emotions ran stronger, and the story was better told in the silent film. Sure, the new one was more engaging and it seemed to pass by quicker, but I will take inter-titles any day for better characters and storytelling.

The film just felt shallower. And I'm not really sure why. I just didn't care as much about the main character and his problems. And the relationships between the actors and other people in the town just failed to reach the same height as the original. Like I said, I'm not sure why, but Ozu seemed to lose the magic of his film by transferring it over to the new technology.

The filmmaking itself was still great, though there were a lot of shots that almost had the characters staring into the camera. Not sure if he was trying to make the film more personal or not, but it was a bit distracting at times. But the composition of every shot was always visually satisfying. I loved the editing as well, it always seemed to cut to the right shot at the right time. Obviously it's a little slow paced by today's standards, but something I'm beginning to love about Japanese Cinema is that if takes its time and makes you sit with the footage and characters. It's much "stiller," and I think that's a good thing to have in a film every now and then.

It's still a good film, and the story is a complex one. But if you have the tolerance for silent films (which I realize not everyone does) I would highly encourage watching the original. It is a wonderful, though sad film, that captures a sort of magic from the story. The shots felt more lyrical, especially in scenes like the fishing one, and I was really sad that the singing scene at the end of the movie was cut out in the remake. I suppose this is yet another reason to not like remakes...

Ben Brandt

Ben is a front-end developer with a love for all things web. When he isn't coding for his 8-to-5, he's usually running, watching movies, or playing with new web frameworks and languages.

Portland, OR

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