Scen.: Kôgo Noda, Yasujiro Ozu. F.: Yûharu Atsuta. M.: Yoshiyasu Hamamura. Scgf.: Tatsuo Hamada. Mus.: Takanobu Saitô. Int.: Chikage Awashima (Masako Sugiyama), Ryô Ikebe (Shoji Sugiyama), Keiko Kishi (Chiyo Kaneko), Chishû Ryû (Kiichi Onodera), Teiji Takahashi (Taizô Aoki), Sô Yamamura (Yutaka Kawai), Takako Fujino (Terumi Aoki), Masami Taura (Kôichi Kitagawa), Haruko Sugimura (Tamako Tamura). Prod.: Shizuo Yamanouchi, Shôchiku Eiga. DCP. D.: 144’. Bn.
With this film depicting salaryman life, I started making a genre film again after a long break. The joy of graduation and entering the adult world, hopes and dreams upon being hired, their gradual disintegration, the perception that after thirty years of work you have hardly achieved anything. I portrayed the lives of salarymen through generational differences, and I tried to bring their bitterness to the surface. […] I avoided dramatic scenes as much as possible, and I wanted to accumulate ordinary scenes so that after seeing it audiences would feel the sadness of that type of life.
Yasujiro Ozu, Scritti sul cinema, edited by Franco Picollo and Hiromi Yagi, Donzelli, Roma 2016
Big stars, most of them young, make Early Spring a self-consciously ‘youth-oriented’ film. Despite a shift in the ‘feasible subset’ of choices, however, Ozu continues to recast characteristic themes, narrative structures, and narrational strategies.
Various thematic materials carry over from earlier works. […] These recurrent elements are subordinated to two major ‘semantic fields’. One involves marriage, as embodied in the domestic difficulties of Shoji and Masako. This constitutes one line of action. It is initiated in the couple’s bored routine of awakening in the first scene, continues through Shoji’s taking Masako for granted and her increasing indifference to him, intensifies with Shoji’s neglect of their son’s death-anniversary, and climaxes with her discovery of his infidelity. […]
“I wanted,” Ozu remarked, “to portray what you might call the pathos of the white-collar life”. This constitutes the second semantic field mobilized by the film. […] Yet Ozu’s film assembles a range of comments which, at intervals through the plot, criticize the salaryman ethos. […] Those critics who see Ozu’s postwar films as lacking social bite should recall such explicit discussions, as well as the visual portrayal of office life as a series of perspective views of files, lockers, desks, and machinery, and the shots which literalize the nickname madogawa-zoku, ‘workers who sit by the windows’.
David Bordwell, Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema, Princeton University Press, BFI Publishing, London-Princeton, NJ 1988