STORY OF FLOATING WEEDS (UKIGUSA MONOGATARI - DISSOLUTION OF FAMILY) (1934, Japan)
directed by: Yasujiro Ozu

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IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0025929

Submitted by Matt Hauske on 2006-12-04

Matt Hauske's comment:
This is the second to last scene of the film, in which the mother, Otsune, reveals that the traveling actor, Kihachi, is the father of her son, Shinkichi. I will be comparing it to the same scene in Ozu's 1959 remake of his film.


Name:
Image
Text
Number of shots:
162
61
Length(min):
10.51
3.42
ASL(sec):
3.9
3.4
MSL 3.5 3.3
MSL/ASL
0.9
0.98
StDev 2.1 1.4
Min 1.6 1.1
Max 15.1 7.2
CV 0.55 0.41
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Color    
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Step: Vertical resolution: Height:
Degree of the trendline: Moving average : Color code?


Users' comments:

Author: Matt Hauske Date: 2006-12-04

This scene comes about 68 minutes into the film.

I'm curious as to why the trendline, even at 12, is hardly affected by the long(ish) takes of 13-15 seconds that punctuate the early parts of the scene. My first guess is that the overall regularity of the ASL of the shots surrounding the long takes overpowers their influence on the trendline.

The ASL of this sequence is noticeably shorter than the overall film's, 4.6 seconds. This makes sense narratively in that it is the climax of the film, in which the family secret is revealed and the family is finally dissolved. It is also interesting that the ASL of the images is higher than that of the intertitles, which drag the overall ASL down. This also makes sense in light of the film's genre: in a family melodrama like this, one would expect the climax to contain more dialogue and the revelation of more information than in an action or comedy film, which would probably climax with much more physical action, perhaps a fight or chase scene. The longest intertitles of the film are also located in this scene: they reveal the largest amount of story information all at once. The intertitle ASL here is also longer than that of the intertitle ASL for the overall film (3.1), while the image ASL is much shorter than the overall image ASL (5.1).

There are three shots in the sequence that stand out as being the longest. The first has Kihachi tell Otsune that his acting troupe has been disbanded. After the intertitle, we get (1) a medium shot of Kihachi looking sadly at Otsune, (2) a reverse medium shot of Otsune nodding in sympathy (standing, in a characteristically Ozu-like manner, at the same angle to the camera as Kihachi, rather than in a classical Hollywood shot/reverse shot manner), and (3) then another medium shot of Kihachi (same as (1)). In (3) Kihachi begins to sit down, and in (4) we have a continuation of the action. This is the first long take in the sequence. Kihachi sits down. When he is seated, Otsune sits down. She grabs a cushion and gives it to him. He accepts it and puts it on the floor.

The second long take comes after Otsune has convinced Kihachi to stop traveling and settle down with her: they can be a family with Shinkichi, and they don't have to be alone anymore. Seated on the floor, with his back to the camera at an angle, Kihachi grabs his bundle, turns it over, and tosses it aside. He then reaches into his belt, pulls out his pipe, and prepares to smoke. This is the longest shot of the sequence, and could be read as indicating the possibility of a new level of comfort and contentment for the 'floating weed.'

The third long take is somewhat of an antithesis to the second. Shinkichi has returned with his girlfriend, an actress in Kihachi's troupe. Kihachi begins to beat her, and Shinkichi steps in to stop him. Kihachi slaps Shinkichi and upbraids him. As the shot begins, Kihachi begins to beat Otoki again, Shinkichi stops him, they struggle, Shinkichi pushes Kihachi back, and he stumbles against a bench in the restaurant. This is a full shot, with all the characters fully visible from head to toe.

What follows is the film's true climax, in which Otsune tells Shinkichi that Kihachi is his father. Shot mainly in Ozuian shot/reverse shot, it consists of what is probably the longest sustained sequence of concentrated dialogue (intertitles) in the film. (On the graph of the overall film, this sequence runs from about 68 to 80 minutes.)


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