Mark Schilling “Setsuko Hara, ‘Tokyo Story’ Star and Yasujiro Ozu’s Muse, Dies at 95” http://variety.com/2015/film/news/setsuko-hara-dead-yasujiro-ozu-muse-1201648540/
Andrew Pulver “Tokyo Story's Setsuko Hara dies at 95” http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/nov/25/tokyo-storys-setsuko-hara-dies-at-95
Ronald Bergan “Setsuko Hara obituary” http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/nov/25/setsuko-hara
Anyone familiar with the films of Yasujiro Ozu will have been entranced by Setsuko Hara, who has died aged 95. Although Ozu’s mature films seem to resemble each other stylistically and thematically – even the titles are confusingly similar – they are, within their chosen parameters, rich in humour, emotion and psychological and social insights, all of which are reflected in Hara’s deceptively similar portrayals.
In each of the six films she made for Ozu, Hara is single, and her relationship with her family is predicated on their desire for her to get married. She is self-effacing but wilful, traditional but with the qualities of an intelligent, modern woman, close to her family but independent in spirit.
In the Noriko trilogy – named after her character in Late Spring (1949), Early Summer (1951) and Tokyo Story (1953) – she is the embodiment of the ideal, devoted daughter, her performance gaining Hara the nickname of the Eternal Virgin. In Late Spring, Noriko, somewhat past the usual marrying age, lives happily with her widowed father (Chishu Ryu)*2. But, feeling he is keeping her from matrimony, he leads her to believe that he is about to remarry in order to free her.
In Early Summer, 28-year-old Noriko, who lives with her aged parents, her older brother and his wife and their two small sons, is under pressure to marry. But she rejects the suitors acceptable to the family and marries a man of her choice. In Tokyo Story, she is a widowed daughter-in-law (again with no desire to remarry) whose affection for her husband’s parents is greater than that of their own children. When someone asks her, “Isn’t life disappointing?”, she replies, “Yes, it is,” and smiles at the camera, deepening the moment.
In many of her films, Hara’s luminous smile communicates a variety of sentiments – sometimes she smiles out of genuine love, sometimes as an attempt to hide pain. In the rare moments when Hara’s characters cry, after otherwise accepting all of life’s misfortunes, the emotional release can be heartbreaking.
*2:笠智衆については、James Kirkup "Obituary: Chishu Ryu" （http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-chishu-ryu-1498760.html）がリンクされている。