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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Late Bloomer

Late Spring (1949) on IMDb

Plot Overview

The title “Banshun” is “Late Spring” in English. The movie starts with a domestic scene in which a woman having purchased some pants for a man, finds they are too long, and the other women in her circle advise her to snip them to fit. It then goes to an office scene in which one man corrects another's spelling by adding a ‘z’ to the musician's name ‘List’ to get ‘Liszt’.

Widower Professor Somiya Shukichi (Chishû Ryû) at age 56 is living with his twenty-seven-years-old daughter Noriko (Setsuko Hara) in a suburb of Tokyo. It is 1949, just four years after The Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Noriko is now looking robust having recovered from maladies incurred in a labor camp. Her happy tranquility is now being disturbed by plans of Somiya's sister/sister-in-law—it's ambiguous—“Auntie” Masa (Haruko Sugimura) to marry her to a Gary Cooper look-alike named Satake. Her father sensing her unhappiness at the pending change advises her that marital happiness will be gained after time and efforts at give & take. But if her adjustments are on the order of snipping pants, his will be peeling the whole apple when his relied-upon daughter moves out.


The machinations of “Auntie” come out in stark relief when plotting and walking with the father, she spies a change purse on the ground and retrieves it, sticking it in her kimono, not turning it in. She's filled with plots, schemes and self-deceit. This can be contrasted with the way the apostle Paul views Philemon whose escaped slave Paul has converted, whom he now writes to trusting him to do the right thing: (Philemon 1:6) “That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” Take particular note of the pronoun ‘you’ that Paul uses displacing the customary ‘thee’ in the 1611 King James Version (KJV). As I mentioned in another paper English was going through a transitional stage at that time in which one's betters were referred to simply by ‘you’—except for the Quakers who didn't believe in classes so still spoke to any­one as ‘thee’ or ‘thou’. Philemon is filled with “every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus,” so Paul entrusts him worthy of respect to manage his (former) slave justly and with compassion, (Philemon 1:8-9) “Where­fore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient, Yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee.” Paul sends the slave with the letter, (Philemon 1:13-14) “Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel: But with­out thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.”

1 Corinthians 7Paul's character of deferring to the believer filled with “every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus” shows up again in his advice on matrimony to the Corinthians. Paul the celibate eunuch wrote, (1Cor. 7:7) “For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.” He trusted each to find his proper gift “which is in you,” as they them­selves are “in Christ Jesus,” as he explicitly tells the widow who is, (1Cor. 7:39) “at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.”

“Late Spring” was made right after WW II subject to the American censors who didn't want reminders of them being there. Never­the­less, there is seen the odd Coca-Cola sign, a bridge specifying “Maximum Load 30 Tons” (for army vehicles), and kids playing the American game base­ball. There's also the new (revolting to some) custom of Japanese women being able to initiate divorce as part of their equality the Americans gave them in the new Japanese constitution. Author Henry Meigs writes of a Japanese woman's situation, “Divorce was the final but least acceptable option in Japan. … Divorce signaled weakness, an inability to handle the most basic of problems” (264). Although this movie's message is not specifically religious, this joining of American and Japanese cultures can't help but remind one of Paul's admonition, (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” This verse uses the plural pronoun ‘ye’ and has to do in its original context with the worship and/or Christian service of the Corinthian church as a group. I've discussed this in another study.

If we want to impose something from this passage of Paul into his earlier teaching on marriage, and respect Paul's consideration for the individual's preferences, then we'd go to his following rhetorical questions and match (singular) case with, (2Cor. 6:15) “what part has he that believeth with an infidel?” This difference would engender give-and- take conflicts within a marriage that the father advised would happen. Never­the­less, according to him, marriage is “the order of human culture and history,” so people enter into it despite its challenges. From a Christian perspective, Japan does not have a large percentage of Christians, and after the war there would be fewer men any­way. Noriko is advised by her friend, “Good men are rare these days. Grab him.” The apostle Paul defers to the Christian to sort through his options. The words of Jesus from visionary Maria Valtorta, 631. The Last Teachings before Ascension-Day: (430)

II In the Mosaic religion matrimony is a contract. In the new Christian religion let it be a sacred indissoluble act, on which may the grace of the Lord descend to make of husband and wife two ministers of His in the propagation of the human race. From the very first moments try to advise the consort belonging to the new religion to convert the consort, who is still out of the number of the believers, to enter and become part of it, to avoid those painful divisions of thought, and consequently of peace, that we have noticed also among our­selves. But when it is a question of believers in the Lord, for no reason what­soever what God united is to be dissolved. And when a consort is Christian and is united to a heathen, / advise that consort to bear his/her cross with patience, meekness and also with strength, to the extent of dying to defend his/her faith, but with­out leaving the consort whom he/she married with full consent. This is My advice for a more perfect life in the matrimonial state, until it will be possible, with the diffusion of Christianity, to have marriages between believers. Then let the bond be sacred and indissoluble, and the love holy.

The new English Bible translations remove the thee & thou through which one distinguishes the singular from the plural ye & you. They substitute ‘you’ for both singular and plural according to contemporary usage. Unable to match the singular case, Christians typically take the plural command to be ye not unequally yoked and apply it in a heavy-handed manner, contrary to Paul (and Jesus), to the individual Christian sorting out his options. I've gone into this in another study.

This is symptomatic of a larger problem Solomon addressed, (Eccl. 4:13-14) “Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished. For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.” Native English words like thee & thou have over time become poor in usage but are still wise in application, like the Japanese boys in the movie who with ball and bat, well, play ball. The queen of the house in “Late Spring” is very set in her ways, uncooperative in moving on to matrimony though that's her best option, she having come out of the prison camp with its limited horizons, as indeed Christians reading modern trans­lations have their horizons obscured by a generic ‘you’ for both singular and plural. I've discussed other applications of those verses else­where as they've come up in other movies.

Many Christians I've encountered are intractable in prohibiting mixed marriages, or in denying a fundamental questioning and/or correction from the reliable KJV of their new Bibles that take liberties with the sacred text. Some come down like gang­busters on the poor Christian guy or gal who marries outside the faith. I refuse to give my implicit support to Bible versions that allow that oppression. That tends to alienate me from churches popularizing these modern versions, resulting even in me lightening up on my church attendance. But this according to Jesus's teaching Near Sephoris, with Johanon's Peasants as recorded by visionary Maria Valtorta: “The Sabbath is not honoured even if a man spends it in a synagogue, if on the same day the man who keeps it puts chains on his brothers and gives them aloe to drink.” When I sit in silence instead of speaking up listening to these modern versions being quoted from, versions whose publication is spread far and wide, it's like watching chains being exported out the door to enslave my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Production Values

“Late Spring” (1949) is the first part of the so-called “Noriko trilogy.” It was directed by Yasujirô Ozu. The screen­play was written by Ozu-san, Kazuo Hirotsu, and Kôgo Noda, from a novel Father And Daughter by Kazuo Hirotsu. It stars Chishû Ryû, Setsuko Hara, and Yumeji Tsukioka. These actors were well rehearsed; so too were the side­line parts.

“Late Spring” is not rated, but it adhered to a pretty strict code back in its day. I suggest a rating of PG on account of thematic elements; its target audience was older teens and adults, not kids. It's shot in Black and White, with Japanese subtitles, subtle dialogue to be read in faces, and an immobile camera that the actors move around. It exudes Japanese culture.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This is a very moving and artistic film, quite well done. A good one to spend a quiet evening watching.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: No action, no adventure. Suitability for Children: Theme suitable for late teenage years and above. Special effects: Well, at least you can't see the strings. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software, print.

Meigs, Henry. Gate of the Tigers. New York: Viking Penguin, 1992. Print.

Valtorta, Maria. 631. The Last Teachings before Ascension-Day. in The Gospel as Revealed to Me. Vol. 5. Translated from Italian by Nicandro Picozzi, M.A., D.D.  Revised by Patrick McLaughlin, M.A. This 2nd English Edition has now replaced the First English Edition, The Poem of the Man-God. WEB.

Valtorta, Maria. Near Sephoris, with Johanon's Peasants. in The Gospel as Revealed to Me. Vol. 4. Translated from Italian by Nicandro Picozzi, M.A., D.D.  Revised by Patrick McLaughlin, M.A. This 2nd English Edition has now replaced the First English Edition, The Poem of the Man-God. WEB.