Family Affair: The End of Summer (1961)

Kohayagawa Family

“The Kohayagawa family is complicated indeed,” remarks Yamaguchi (Kyû Sazanka), a longtime employee of the sake brewery run by the Kohayagawas, around whom Yasujirô Ozu’s 1961 film The End of Summer revolves. Facing falling profits and heavy competition from larger rivals, their small company seems destined for a merger if it wishes to stay in business at all, but Manbei (Ganjirô Nakamura), the family’s patriarch, is opposed to the idea. He wants the company to remain independent — and it’s clear that he desires similar freedom in his personal life. Of late, he’s been disappearing frequently with little or no explanation. Curiosity eventually gets the better of his employees, so one of them, Roku (Yû Fujiki), follows him and — despite Manbei’s best efforts to deter him — discovers his secret: He’s been visiting Tsune Sasaki (Chieko Naniwa), a woman who used to be his mistress.

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Ozu vs. Ozu: A Story of Floating Weeds (1934) and Floating Weeds (1959)

In the last few years of his career, Yasujirô Ozu reworked some of his earlier films. Both 1932’s I Was Born, But… and 1959’s Good Morning involve two young brothers “going on strike,” although the details are different: the boys in the former refuse to eat because they want their father to stop abasing himself in front of his boss, while the boys in the latter refuse to talk because they want their parents to buy them a television and because they’re tired of adults’ empty pleasantries. 1960’s Late Autumn tells essentially the same story as 1949’s Late Spring, with a widowed mother replacing the widowed father of the original and the addition of some significant secondary characters. (Elements of Late Spring also appear in 1962’s An Autumn Afternoon.) However, Ozu’s most direct remake of his own work is 1959’s Floating Weeds, based on 1934’s A Story of Floating Weeds.

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