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A Story of Floating Weeds/Floating Weeds: Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu (Criterion Collection)


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A Story of Floating Weeds/Floating Weeds: Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu (Criterion Collection) + Late Spring (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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Product Details

  • Actors: Ganjirô Nakamura, Machiko Kyô, Haruko Sugimura, Ayako Wakao, Hiroshi Kawaguchi
  • Directors: Yasujirô Ozu
  • Writers: Yasujirô Ozu, Kôgo Noda, Tadao Ikeda
  • Producers: Masaichi Nagata
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, Special Edition, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: April 27 2004
  • Run Time: 205 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001GH5RY
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #20,188 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Product Description

In 1959, Yasujiro Ozu remade his 1934 silent classic A Story of Floating Weeds in color with the celebrated cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa (Rashomon, Ugetsu). Setting his later version in a seaside location, Ozu otherwise preserves the details of his elegantly simple plot wherein an aging actor returns to a small town with his troupe and reunites with his former lover and illegitimate son, a scenario that enrages his current mistress and results in heartbreak for all. Together, the films offer a unique glimpse into the evolution of one of cinema's greatest directors. A Story of Floating Weeds reveals Ozu in the midst of developing his mode of expression; Floating Weeds reveals his distinct style at its pinnacle. In each, the director captures the joy and sadness in everyday life.

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Providing a unique opportunity for the appreciation of Yasujiro Ozu's signature style, Criterion's definitive double-feature of A Story of Floating Weeds (1934) and Floating Weeds (1959) demonstrates the evolution of a master. Drawing inspiration from the now-obscure 1928 American carnival-troupe drama The Barker, Ozu first made A Story of Floating Weeds as a silent film (despite the advent of sound by that time), and Criterion's DVD features a sublime, newly recorded original score that sounds and feels like it's been part of the film all along. The film itself concerns a traveling Kabuki troupe faced with dramatic revelations as they perform in a rural village: Their master has had a son from a former lover whom he is visiting for the first time in a dozen years. Unaware of his parentage, the now-grown son thinks the visitor is his rarely seen uncle, and the master's mistress, upon discovering her lover's secret family, plots to undermine their relationship by urging a young actress to seduce the son, knowing that this would enrage the master's discreet familial pride. By story's end, all of these central relationships will undergo deep and resonant change.

Ozu was justifiably proud of this meticulous character study, in which his celebrated low-angle style began to assert itself. A quarter-century later, he remade the film as Floating Weeds, retaining the same story and characters, switching the setting to a seaside town, and demonstrating a more casual acceptance of human foibles that makes the 1959 version (Ozu's first film in color) relatively calm and compassionate when contrasted with the more turbulent tone of the '34 silent. Having grown as an artist, Ozu was at his stylistic peak here, having refined his style to the point where all camera movement had given way to flawless refinement of static compositions. These and other comparisons abound in the study of original and remake; to that end, commentaries by preeminent Japanese film expert and dialogue translator Donald Richie (on the '34 film) and film critic Roger Ebert (on Floating Weeds) provide astutely thorough appreciations of the parallel structures, stylistic evolution, and cultural specifics of films that, until the early 1970's, were considered "too Japanese" for an international audience. Never dry or pretentious, their scholarly analyses lend solid, sensitive context to the enjoyment of two of Ozu's most critically and commercially successful films. --Jeff Shannon


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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: DVD
If you only buy one Japanese film to add to your DVD collection, let it be an Ozu film and "Floating Weeds" is a wonderful place to start. There's really nothing I can say that isn't absolutely praiseworthy about Ozu and this film. It truly is a masterpiece in every sense of the word.
The Criterion Collection DVD is also a masterpiece, giving us both the original silent "Story of Floating Weeds" and the 1959 remake "Floating Weeds", (both directed by Ozu). The mastering is done well, the sound is great, and the voice-over commentary by famed Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times is a delightful surprise. Ebert humbly acknowledges that there are better Japanese film & culture experts out there, but "does his best" to give a very thorough description of Ozu's very unique style. Needless to say, it's one of the better and more informative commentaries I've heard and Mister Ebert is modest.
The story is genuine, sweet, simple, and believable. The characters are solid and have great depth. Ozu keeps the action and emotions to a realistic level without resorting to over-acting in any of his films. They almost don't feel like films in this way, but feel like intrusions into other peoples lives, but politely so.
Many people have speculated as to Ozu's curious method of placing his camera just below the eye-level of his actors onscreen, and I have my own theory. Perhaps Mr Ozu also has the innocence of children in mind, and is trying to see the world unbiasedly and naively like a child might - from the aproximate eye-level of a child viewing the events happening in the same room as he or she? It's an idea anyway.
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Format: DVD
Sublime heroism in small gestures and difficult moral decisions infuses Yasujiro Ozu's 1959 masterpiece, FLOATING WEEDS (Criterion).
An aging Kabuki actor returns to a small town with his troupe and reunites with his old lover and illegitimate son, an act that enrages the actor's current mistress. In some ways, the story is the flip side of the Prodigal Son parable. Here, a bad dad returns to save his son from the temptations of the corrupt world.
This great humanistic film transcends the time and place of its story. I especially enjoyed Roger Ebert's highly informed commentary. Highest recommendation.
Note: The loaded double disc also includes the original 1934 silent version of Ozu's film with an extraordinary new score by noted silent film composer Donald Sosin.
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Format: DVD
Having seen almost all Ozu films extant,including some of his earliest short silents, I recommend this as one of his supreme accomplishments. Yes, it is off his regular beaten path. His first color film and a somewhat overworked plot, but that is not what you go to an Ozu film for. For some reason this is the only one of his films that I never fail to cry at the start of. I get swept away into another simple and sublime day-to-day world. After seeing it in public once, two women seated behind me said "What was that all about?" Just life, just life.
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3 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Julie on May 26 2004
Format: DVD
Although I admire Ozu's style, his 'simple' approach to unfolding human behaviour and relationships, his approach to women in this particular film troubled me.
The women in this film are treated either violently or cavalierly. After the protagonist has slapped his actress/girlfriend around and kicked her out onto the street, she later practically begs to come back to him.
The protagonist has also fathered a child many years ago with a woman whom he leaves then later revisits, to see his son who is now a young man. He treats this mother of his child sometimes tenderly, sometimes neglectfully, and seemingly plays with her emotions. She takes it all rather submissively.
There is another instance of male violence toward women, regarding a "loose" woman who is involved with his son. The protagonist does not treat her very well either.
It is true that the film is beautiful to regard, with lovely cinamatography, and has a slow hypnotic feel to the narrative, but the social/societal treatment of women put me off.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 25 reviews
64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
I loved loved loved this movie! May 2 2004
By E. Dolnack - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
If you only buy one Japanese film to add to your DVD collection, let it be an Ozu film and "Floating Weeds" is a wonderful place to start. There's really nothing I can say that isn't absolutely praiseworthy about Ozu and this film. It truly is a masterpiece in every sense of the word.
The Criterion Collection DVD is also a masterpiece, giving us both the original silent "Story of Floating Weeds" and the 1959 remake "Floating Weeds", (both directed by Ozu). The mastering is done well, the sound is great, and the voice-over commentary by famed Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times is a delightful surprise. Ebert humbly acknowledges that there are better Japanese film & culture experts out there, but "does his best" to give a very thorough description of Ozu's very unique style. Needless to say, it's one of the better and more informative commentaries I've heard and Mister Ebert is modest.
The story is genuine, sweet, simple, and believable. The characters are solid and have great depth. Ozu keeps the action and emotions to a realistic level without resorting to over-acting in any of his films. They almost don't feel like films in this way, but feel like intrusions into other peoples lives, but politely so.
Many people have speculated as to Ozu's curious method of placing his camera just below the eye-level of his actors onscreen, and I have my own theory. Perhaps Mr Ozu also has the innocence of children in mind, and is trying to see the world unbiasedly and naively like a child might - from the aproximate eye-level of a child viewing the events happening in the same room as he or she? It's an idea anyway. Perhaps also Ozu wants the camera to look up to his characters as if it is respectfully just below them submissively, as if it is bowing to them all in respect? It's difficult to say for certain, but the look is unique in all of film and once it hooks you, you're hooked for life! You have been warned.
After this wonderful classic, I recommend Ozu's "Tokyo Story" from 1953 (also recently released by the Criterion Collection). Ozu is a great film master and no one could compose a shot like he in all film history. If you haven't, you must see an Ozu film at least once in your lifetime!
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
What is a family? Jan. 10 2005
By Zack Davisson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Ozu called himself a "tofu dealer" who sold many different kinds of tofu, but never pork cutlets or anything like that. He was a master of variations on a theme, taking simple stories and telling and re-telling them, each time with a subtle difference, a slight bend in light and tone. In this stunning DVD package, we are treated to two servings of the same tofu, with the flavor variation that comes with ageing.

The older film, 1934's silent masterpiece "A Story of Floating Weeds" ("Ukigusa monogatari") was made by a younger man with a younger man's passion and righteousness, and the more modern update, 1959's "Floating Weeds" ("Ukigusa,") longer and in color, shows the mellowing that comes with age, the greater desire to forgive, as we see the same story unfold in the hands of an older version of the same man.

Like the river weed from which the films take their names, the Kabuki actors in both versions float from town to town, going where the course takes them and leaving behind nothing permanent. Long ago, however, one piece of ukigusa, the troupe leader Kihachi, betrayed his nature and left behind something of himself, a son. Now, the course of the river brings Kihachi back to his house of old memories. He is excited, pleased with his son, and briefly considers abandoning his drifting ways to become a true and settled tree. But Kihachi does not float alone, and his leaves and roots are entangled with his Kabuki troupe, including his lover who is determined to keep him drifting.

Like all of Ozu's films, the role of the family is the forefront of "A Story of Floating Weeds/Floating Weeds." In these films, the idea of family is hard to define. Is it the Kabuki troupe, who live, sleep, eat and work together day in and day out, or is it the biological attachment with a son you have rarely met and a woman you never married. Irregardless of the definition, a breakdown is imminent, and only after the pieces have been scattered can we divine the truth.

Individually, either of these films is a treat, but bound together like they are in this Criterion Collection release the bar is raised even higher. A masterpiece of DVD craftsmanship to compliment two masterpiece films. Each film has a commentary track, "A Story of Floating Weeds" by Japanese film grandmaster Donald Richie, who also did the subtitles and provides an insert essay, and "Floating Weeds" by admitted Japanese film novice Roger Ebert. Both commentaries are incredibly insightful and add to the level of appreciation for these films. The new soundtrack for "A Story of Floating Weeds" is sublime, although I have never heard the original so I cannot make a comparison.

Hats off to the Criterion Collection! Now more Ozu, please! Keep them coming, just like this.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A wonderful Movie and A Great DVD March 28 2005
By Max Hurst - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have only really discovered Ozu in the three years or so and in my mid-- life it is like entering a bright new world. I have recently watched Floating Weeds for the second time (having ordered it on video). The first time I thought it an unusual film- though not one of his best. I have now completely revised this opinion and consider it a supreme masterpiece. Ozu astonishes with a quiet directness I find moving , completely absorbing and exhilarating to watch. I realize the theatre troup which comes into the town, contstructs its little Kabuki world and then fades into nothing is a perfect vehicle and symbol for what Ozu is consistently portraying in all his little plays: the transient , troubling beauty of the world . The transient troubling little dramas of human relationships. The imagery in all Ozu's films(but somehow epsecially this one) make me see images as I did in childhood : a turned corner on a side street, a scene of a harbor at dusk, a slightly surprised look on the face of middle-aged woman. Many of these movies were filmed when I was a child but I believe there is more than a kind odd 1950's familiarity. There is a kind of direct , unfettered appeal to sensations it is almost difficult to name. Something immediately
innocent and guileless in ourselves. Something always,already seeing and awake. The more I watch Ozu the more I see this and nowhere more than in this film. I kept chuckling at little, scene after little scene. Tiny little nuanced moments I kept rewinding to see if I'd really seen . Anyone who hasn't seen this film: Don't just watch it once.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Another fine release from criterion.... Oct. 22 2004
By Stalwart Kreinblaster - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Floating weeds is the first Ozu film I have seen in color - it is very interesting to see how this master of black and white decided to utilize colors in a very striking way. The story is, like most Ozu films, very simple - about daily life - and leads, eventually, to a course of dramatic emotional events surrounding a family. It is not nearly as sad as 'Tokyo Story' but makes you reflect just as much. It is also an interesting comment on acting - on and off the stage - as the father in the film pretends he is an uncle to a son who does not know that this traveling actor - is actually his father - who elected to live a travelling life with an acting group - instead of settling down to raise a family.

This is another great criterion dvd - featuring commentary from Roger Ebert - and a beautiful transfer of the movie - and the earlier 1934 version. Ozu is without a doubt one of my personal favorite movie makers.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
TIMELESS MASTERPIECE June 24 2004
By Robin Simmons - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Sublime heroism in small gestures and difficult moral decisions infuse Yasujiro Ozu's 1959 masterpiece, FLOATING WEEDS (Criterion).

An aging Kabuki actor returns to a small town with his troupe and reunites with his old lover and illegitimate son, an act that enrages the actor's current mistress. In some ways, the story is the flip side of the Prodigal Son parable. Here, a bad dad returns to save his son from the temptations of the corrupt world.

This great humanistic film transcends the time and place of its story. I especially enjoyed Roger Ebert's highly informed commentary. Highest recommendation.

Note: The loaded double disc also includes the original 1934 silent version of Ozu's film with an extraordinary new score by noted silent film composer Donald Sosin.


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