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The End of Summer

is a 1961 film directed by Yasujirō Ozu. It was entered into the 12th Berlin International Film Festival. The film was his penultimate; only An Autumn Afternoon (1962) followed it.

Plot

Manbei Kohayagawa (Ganjirō Nakamura) is the head of a small sake brewery company in Kyoto, with two daughters and a widowed daughter-in-law. His daughter-in-law, Akiko (Setsuko Hara), and youngest daughter, Noriko (Yoko Tsukasa), live together in Osaka. Akiko helps out at an art gallery and has a son Minoru. Noriko, unmarried, works as a salaried office worker. Manbei's other daughter, Fumiko (Michiyo Aratama), lives with him. Her husband, Hisao, helps at the brewery and they have a young son Masao.

Manbei asks his brother-in-law Kitagawa (Daisuke Katō) to find Akiko a husband, and Kitagawa lets Akiko meet a friend of his, Isomura Eiichirou (Hisaya Morishige), a widower, at a pub. Isomura is enthusiastic about the match but Akiko is hesitant. Manbei also asks Kitagawa to arrange a matchmaking session for his youngest daughter, Noriko.

During summer Manbei sneaks out constantly to meet his old flame, a former mistress by the name of Sasaki Tsune (Chieko Naniwa). Sasaki has a grown-up, rather Westernized daughter Yuriko who may or may not be Manbei's own daughter. When Fumiko finds out Manbei has been seeing Sasaki again, she is angered and confronts her father, but Manbei denies the whole affair.

The Kohayagawa family meets for a memorial service for their late mother at Arashiyama. After returning, Manbei has a heart attack but survives. Akiko asks Noriko about her matchmaking session with a man with a voracious appetite, but it appears Noriko is more inclined towards a friend Teramoto (Akira Takarada), a lecturer who has just moved to Sapporo as an assistant professor.

In a secret trip out with Sasaki to and back from Osaka, Manbei has another heart attack, and dies shortly after. Sasaki informs the daughters of what happened. The ailing Kohayagawa brewery is to be merged with a business rival's, while Noriko decides to go to Sapporo to search out Teramoto. At the film's end, the Kohayagawa family gathers and reminisces about Manbei's life as his body is cremated.

Cast

  • Ganjirō Nakamura – Kohayagawa Manbei
  • Setsuko Hara – Akiko, Manbei's widowed daughter-in-law
  • Yoko Tsukasa – Noriko, Manbei's youngest daughter
  • Michiyo Aratama – Fumiko, Manbei's oldest daughter
  • Keiju Kobayashi – Hisao, Fumiko's husband
  • Chieko Naniwa – Sasaki Tsune
  • Reiko Dan – Yuriko, her daughter
  • Haruko Sugimura – Kato Shige, Manbei's sister-in-law from Nagoya
  • Hisaya Morishige – Isomura Eiichirou, Akiko's suitor
  • Daisuke Katō – Kitagawa Yanosuke, "the uncle from Osaka," Manbei's brother-in-law
  • Akira Takarada – Teramoto Tadashi
  • Kyū Sazanka – Yamaguchi, Chief clerk
  • Yū Fujiki – Maruyama Rokutarou, Assistant clerk
  • Haruko Togo – Kitagawa Teruko, Yanosuke's wife
  • Yumi Shirakawa – Nakanishi Takako, Noriko's friend
  • Tatsuo Endō – Hayshi Seizo
  • Masahiko Shimazu – Masao, Hisao and Fumiko's son
  • Chishū Ryū – Farmer
  • Yūko Mochizuki – Farmer

    Production

    In order to secure its contract stars Setsuko Hara and Yoko Tsukasa from Toho for his prior film Late Autumn, Ozu agreed to direct The End of Summer for the studio, making it his only Toho film and the only one of three not produced for Shochiku (the others were Floating Weeds for Daiei and The Munekata Sisters for Shintoho). As a result, the film is filled with Toho players, many of whom took the opportunity to appear in their only Ozu film, including marquee headliners Hisaya Morishige and Akira Takarada taking small roles. Ozu added a scene at the end to accommodate star Yūko Mochizuki, who requested to be in the film, and his signature player Chishū Ryū.

    Reception

    Dennis Schwartz praised The End of Summer as a "deft blending of comedy and tragedy", writing that Manbei's "lively antics give the film a wonderfully playful tone."

    Filmmaker Eugène Green, who gave the film one of his ten votes in the 2012 Sight & Sound directors' poll of the world's best films, wrote that it "stands out as a meditation on death, with certain shots of an extraordinary power and beauty. The scenes between the two sisters are deeply moving."