On a Story of Floating Weeds
In which The Gay Recluse is entranced.
It’s a silent movie, which takes some getting used to (and we say this with regret, not about the movie, but the state of our frenzied existence).
Like the other Ozu films we’ve seen — Tokyo Story, Early Spring and a few others — we were taken with a remarkable balance between the film’s obvious composition — the underlying beauty of literally every shot — and a natural dignity possessed by the actors.
Like so much of life, there is a pervasive melancholy to these films, a sense of striving for something better and never quite attaining it.
A Story of Floating Weeds concerns the leader of a somewhat downtrodden acting troupe who returns to the small city where he had fathered a son twenty years earlier.
The son has grown up with the mother and believes that his father is dead, although the actor/father has paid for his schooling, with the hope that his son will lead a better life than he has.
We are swept away by Ozu’s understanding of both the allure and the oppression of the artistic life, the need to achieve it any cost, and the even greater need to escape it once it is within our grasp.
He is a master at conveying the strictures of society on one hand, but the inevitable loneliness and failure — not to mention the poverty — that is almost always the cost for anyone who dares to abandon it.
But again, much like life, the oppression of any environment is made bearable by a sort of calm sensuality that pervades the film, e.g., we love watching the men in the failing acting troupe as they lie around backstage, lazily making jokes or looking for cigarettes.
We also love watching the women, who are — albeit in a Japanese context — sarcastic and opinionated, but willing to fight (and fight dirty!) for love.
That Ozu was gay is almost a certainty. (He never married or had children, and was expelled from boarding school for ______.)
This cannot be surprising to anyone who watches the way his camera caresses the male bodies in his films, and observes the women with a detached empathy that (at least in our experience) is unlikely to arise in anyone interested in physical possession.
When the film started, we wondered how we could last through 90 minutes of intense silence.
When it was over, we longed for more.
Filed under: Drag Queens, Dream, Film, Gay, Language, Longing, Pleasure | 2 Comments
Tags: A Story of Floating Weeds, Gay Directors, Japan, Silent Movies, Yasujiro Ozu