Monday, October 25, 2010

1933 - PASSING FANCY, Ozu's comedy drama

The Japanese were still cranking out silent films even into the mid 1930's.  Here's an interesting slice of life in Japan.  Passing Fancy is a comedy drama about a father and son in a working class neighborhood. 

The director is Yasujirō Ozu a filmmaker who really followed his own path.  Ozu's films were about family life in Japan and the small intimate events that occur in their lives.  Ozu's technique was developed over years of film making.  It's an austere approach emphasizing a lack of editing or fancy camera work almost imperceptible.   His films aren't boring but they are different, no Kurosawa razzle dazzle here.

The acting in this film is at a very high naturalistic level, especially for a silent film.

Passing Fancy is not one of the better Ozu films that I have seen.  The story kind of jerks along from one subplot to another.  Ozu doesn't seem to have worked out where he wanted the story to go.  He relies on the actors to keep the story from sliding into melodrama.  Still, this is a very good film with many fine scenes. 

Eight years later when the United States was at war with Japan, Hollywood was churning out propaganda films that portrayed the Japanese people as sub human monkeys.  Passing Fancy is an interesting view of Japan that the American public never saw.

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