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A Story of Floating Weeds/Floating Weeds (1934-1959)

Cast: Takeshi Sakamoto, Ganjiro Nakamura, Hiroshi Kawaguchi, more...
Director: Yasujiro Ozu, Yasujiro Ozu
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Studio: HVE, Criterion
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Japan, Criterion Collection
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English
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Floating Weeds (Criterion Collection) (1959)
This 1959 Ozu production centers on the likable but fallible leader of an itinerant acting troupe ("floating weeds" being the Japanese name for such groups), Kimajuro, played brilliantly by Ganjiro Nakamura. The film opens on a lazy, stagnant river as the troupe lays spread about on a boat deck drifting downstream. It's obvious that they're a ragged bunch as they sit fanning themselves and smoking on deck. The boat pulls into a quiet fishing village where the troupe proceeds to canvass the town, hanging up posters and performing impromptu stunts for the inhabitants. Kimajuro and his actress mistress, Sumiko (Machiko Kyo), head to the theatre and secure their cramped quarters above the theatre's main hall. Kimajuro leaves to pay a visit to a local saki bar owned by Oyoshi (Haruko Sugimura), who, years previous, had conceived a child with Kimajuro. The child has grown into a strapping young man, Kiyoshi (Hiroshi Kawaguchi), who has a good job at the post office. Kimajuro, although clearly proud of his son, has refused to take responsibility for the child and Kiyoshi thinks Kimajuro is merely his uncle. Unbeknownst to Kimajuro, Sumiko has discovered his secret, and, infuriated, hires a young actress to seduce Kiyoshi. Terrified that his son is falling for this woman of loose morals, Kimajuro has to decide what's most important: keeping his secret safe or saving his son by acknowledging his paternity. ~ Brian Whitener, All Movie Guide

A Story of Floating Weeds (Criterion Collection) (1934)
One of Yasujiro Ozu's early masterworks, it concerns an actor, Kihachi (Takeshi Sakomoto) leading a struggling theater troupe who returns to the provincial town where he fathered a child years before. He seeks out his son, now a young man, and the woman who bore him, spending a great deal of time with them. To avoid angering his mistress Otaka (Rieko Yagumo), and to protect himself, he pretends to the young man that he is his uncle. Nonetheless, Otaka eventually learns the truth and persuades one of the company's ingénues to seduce the boy, hoping to hurt him and his father indirectly. Her plan backfires when the two fall in love, and the troupe, which is already on the brink of failure, is forced to disband. At length, Kihachi realizes he must move on and returns to Otaka. ~ Michael Costello, All Movie Guide

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital transfer with restored image and sound
  • Audio commentary by Japanese film historian Donald Richie
  • New score by noted silent-film composer Donald Sosin
  • New and improved English subtitle translation by Donald Richie
  • Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition

GreenCine Member Ratings

Floating Weeds (Criterion Collection) (1959)
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7.82 (109 votes)
A Story of Floating Weeds (Criterion Collection) (1934)
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8.05 (58 votes)

GreenCine Member Reviews

Ozu ABC by itchy008 August 19, 2004 - 3:35 PM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
This is a good DVD for anyone trying Ozu for the first time. It's a good movie, a rare Ozu film in color.

Roger Ebert's commentary provides a great introduction to Ozu's style. He talks about the care Ozu puts into framing his shots. He explains why Ozu's concern for his characters makes him the most universal of directors. And he talks about the importance of drinking to Ozu and his films.

Watch it with A STORY OF FLOATING WEEDS, Ozu's original silent b&w telling of this simple story.

The Silent Treatment of FLOATING WEEDS by itchy008 August 16, 2004 - 10:21 PM PDT
6 out of 6 members found this review helpful
Although Yasujiro Ozu's A STORY OF FLOATING WEEDS contains many basic elements of melodrama (a secret in the family, a jealous woman, a young man in love for the first time), none of them take over the film. One reason is this film is from 1930s Japan, when outbursts of emotion would be out of place. Another is that in an Ozu film, crying and carrying on are usually kept under control.

This does not mean the love affairs and secrets have little impact in the lives of the traveling actors and townspeople in the Japanese countryside. On the contrary, Ozu shows us slowly and thoughtfully how devastating the choices people make for the benefit of others can turn out to hurt everyone involved.

On this DVD, Donald Ritchie, the most respected Western commentator on Japanese cinema, talks about the big and the small. He explains how A STORY OF FLOATING WEEDS marks an important change in Ozu's career and what is the significance of the main character scratching his butt in key points of the film.

You should watch it along with FLOATING WEEDS, Ozu's 1959 remake.

More reviews for titles in this product:

Moveline's 100 Best Foreign Films
This list was published in Moveline's July 1996 issue.
A List of Good Movies

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