Floating Weeds (1959)

Traveling is required in a large number of professions – flight attendants, workers on oil rigs, and potentially for those working in large corporations. Some employees may feel unappreciated and overworked, moving aimlessly from place to place in hopes to find purpose. They may feel as if they are “floating weeds”. However, the phrase and title of this outstanding Ozu film from 1959 can be applicable to our desire to belong in a multitude of life scenarios. In a remake of his 1934 film, Ozu carefully explores several precarious and tense situations through the eyes and heart of a “floating” theatre troupe.

Komajuro (Ganjiro Nakamura) is the lead actor of an unpolished group of actors who travel to various coastal towns in Japan. Their style of acting is quite tacky, and their plays have not fared well financially. However, they continue to optimistically perform to increase their financial and emotional stability. It becomes quite evident that achieving these goals, especially the latter, would deem extremely difficult. Early in the film, the protagonist visits his former mistress, Oyoshi (Haruko Sigimura) as well as his son, Kiyoshi (Hiroshi Kawaguchi), who believes him to be his uncle. The development of Komajuro’s and his son’s relationship evokes reward, hazard, curiosity, and indirect divisiveness. As the norm in small towns, private occurrences become public knowledge.

Ozu’s characteristic still yet balanced cinematography as well as attentive storytelling aid in beautifully capturing human joy and struggle in all of his masterful films. This is definitely no exception, with the added use of glorious colour saturating the film surroundings. Dishonesty, hypocrisy, jealousy, conformity, and need for appreciation are all themes investigated in the film. Venturing outside of the realm of uniformity within a group can create suspicion among others. There are unspoken nuances of familiarity, and there is a fear of group cohesion becoming dismantled. This creates a ripple effect of fear, coercion, and intrusion, which can ultimately destroy a ‘garden of blooming flowers’ into a field of weeds. While Komajuro is one discussed who experienced these dilemmas in the film, all individuals fear complete isolation. It is important to treasure the connections we make, and to encourage delving into the unknown. This helps to solidify and anchor roots, so that we can flourish and grow into well-rounded human beings.

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I do not own the above image.

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4 thoughts on “Floating Weeds (1959)

  1. Great post 🙂 Both his black-and-white and color films are fantastic 🙂 Ozu is one of the greatest Japanese filmmakers of all-time ranking alongside Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguichi and Shohei Imamura. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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