Setsuko Hara

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Setsuko Hara
Setsuko Hara in Late Spring 2.jpg
Setsuko Hara in Late Spring in 1949
Aida Masae(会田 昌江)

(1920-06-17)June 17, 1920
DiedSeptember 5, 2015(2015-09-05) (aged 95)
Years active1935–1963
Notable work
No Regrets for Our Youth
Late Spring
Early Summer
Tokyo Story
L. to R.: Kiyo Kuroda and Setsuko Hara in Atami (1936) Setsuko Hara and Kiyo Kuroda.jpg
L. to R.: Kiyo Kuroda and Setsuko Hara in Atami (1936)
in Atarashiki Tsuchi (1937) Setsuko Hara in Atarashiki Tsuchi.jpg
in Atarashiki Tsuchi (1937)
in Late Spring (1949) Late Spring (Banshun) 1949.jpg
in Late Spring (1949)
in Tokyo Story (1953) Tokyo Monogatari 1953.jpg
in Tokyo Story (1953)

Setsuko Hara(原 節子,Hara Setsuko, June 17, 1920 September 5, 2015) was a Japanese actress. In the West, she is best known for her performances in Yasujirō Ozu's films Late Spring (1949) and Tokyo Story (1953), [1] although she had already appeared in 67 films before working with Ozu. [2]

Japan Constitutional monarchy in East Asia

Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south.

Yasujirō Ozu Japanese film director

Yasujirō Ozu was a Japanese film director and screenwriter. He began his career during the era of silent films. Ozu first made a number of short comedies, before turning to more serious themes in the 1930s.

<i>Late Spring</i> 1949 film by Yasujiro Ozu

Late Spring is a 1949 Japanese drama film, directed by Yasujirō Ozu and produced by the Shochiku studio. It is based on the short novel Father and Daughter by the 20th-century novelist and critic Kazuo Hirotsu, and was adapted for the screen by Ozu and his frequent collaborator, screenwriter Kogo Noda. The film was written and shot during the Allied Powers' Occupation of Japan and was subject to the Occupation's official censorship requirements. It stars Chishū Ryū, who was featured in almost all of the director’s films, and Setsuko Hara, making her first of six appearances in Ozu’s work. It is the first installment of Ozu’s so-called “Noriko trilogy”—the others are Early Summer and Tokyo Story —in each of which Hara portrays a young woman named Noriko, though the three Norikos are distinct, unrelated characters, linked primarily by their status as single women in postwar Japan.


Early career

Setsuko Hara was born Masae Aida(会田 昌江,Aida Masae) in what is now Hodogaya-ku, Yokohama in a family with three sons and five daughters. Her elder sister was married to film director Hisatora Kumagai, which gave her an entry into the world of the cinema: he encouraged her to drop out of school, which she did [3] and went to work for Nikkatsu Studios in Tamagawa, outside Tokyo, in 1935. She debuted at the age of 15 with a stage name that the studio gave her [3] in Do Not Hesitate Young Folks!(ためらふ勿れ若人よ,tamerafu nakare wakōdo yo) [4] [5]

Hodogaya-ku, Yokohama Ward in Kantō, Japan

Hodogaya-ku (保土ケ谷区) is one of the 18 wards of the city of Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. As of 2010, Hodogaya Ward had an estimated population of 205,887 and a density of 9,400 inhabitants per square kilometer (24,000/sq mi). The total area was 21.91 km2 (8.46 sq mi).


The Nikkatsu Corporation is a Japanese entertainment company known for its film and television productions. It is Japan's oldest major movie studio, founded during the silent film era. The name Nikkatsu amalgamates the words Nippon Katsudō Shashin, literally "Japan Motion Pictures".

She came to prominence as an actress in the 1937 German-Japanese co-production Die Tochter des Samurai ( The Daughter of the Samurai ), known in Japan as Atarashiki Tsuchi (The New Earth), directed by Arnold Fanck and Mansaku Itami. [6] In the film, Hara plays a woman who unsuccessfully attempts to immolate herself in a volcano. She continued to portray tragic heroines in many of her films until the end of World War II, [7] like “The Suicide Troops of the Watchtower” (1942) and “The Green Mountains” (1949), directed by Tadashi Imai, and “Toward the Decisive Battle in the Sky,” directed by Kunio Watanabe. [3]

<i>The Daughter of the Samurai</i> 1937 film by Arnold Fanck, Mansaku Itami

The Daughter of the Samurai is a 1937 German-Japanese drama film directed by Arnold Fanck and Mansaku Itami and starring Setsuko Hara, Ruth Eweler and Sessue Hayakawa. Its Japanese title was Atarashiki tsuchi, meaning "New Earth." It was the first of two co-productions between Japan and Nazi Germany. Franck, who was famous for making mountaineering films, was possibly chosen as director because of his connections to the Nazi Party. Fanck and Itami clashed a great deal during the film's production, and in effect created two separate versions for release in their respective countries.

Arnold Fanck was a German film director and pioneer of the mountain film genre. He is best known for the extraordinary alpine footage he captured in such films as The Holy Mountain (1926), The White Hell of Pitz Palu (1929), Storm over Mont Blanc (1930), Der weisse Rausch (1931), and S.O.S. Eisberg (1933). Fanck was also instrumental in launching the careers of several filmmakers during the Weimar years in Germany, including Leni Riefenstahl, Luis Trenker, and cinematographers Sepp Allgeier, Richard Angst, Hans Schneeberger, and Walter Riml.

Mansaku Itami Film director, screenwriter

Mansaku Itami was a Japanese film director and screenwriter known for his critical, sometimes satirical portraits of Japan and its history. He is the father of the director Juzo Itami.

Postwar career

Hara remained in Japan after 1945 and continued making anti-communist films. She starred in Akira Kurosawa’s first postwar film, No Regrets for Our Youth (1946). [3] She also worked with director Kimisaburo Yoshimura in A Ball at the Anjo House (1947) and Keisuke Kinoshita in Here’s to the Girls (1949). In all of these films, she was portrayed as the “new” Japanese woman, looking forward to a bright future. However, in most of her movies, especially those directed by Yasujirō Ozu and Mikio Naruse she plays the typical Japanese woman, as either daughter, wife, or mother. [1]

Anti-communism political position

Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and it reached global dimensions during the Cold War, when the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in an intense rivalry. Anti-communism has been an element of movements holding many different political positions, including nationalist, social democratic, liberal, libertarian, conservative, fascist, capitalist, anarchist and even socialist viewpoints.

Akira Kurosawa Japanese film director and screenwriter

Akira Kurosawa was a Japanese film director and screenwriter, who directed 30 films in a career spanning 57 years. He is regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema.

<i>No Regrets for Our Youth</i> 1946 film by Akira Kurosawa

No Regrets for Our Youth is a 1946 film written and directed by Akira Kurosawa. It is based on the 1933 Takigawa incident.

Hara’s first film of six with Yasujirō Ozu was Late Spring (1949), and their collaboration would last for the next twelve years. In Late Spring, she plays Noriko, a devoted daughter who prefers to stay at home and take care of her father than to marry, despite the urgings of her family members. In Early Summer (1951), she played an unrelated character also called Noriko, who wanted to get married, and finds the courage to do so without her family’s approval. This was followed by Tokyo Story (1953), perhaps her and Ozu's best-known film, in which she played a widow, also called Noriko whose husband was killed in the war. Her devotion to her deceased husband worries her in-laws, who insist that she should move on and remarry. [6]

<i>Early Summer</i> 1951 film by Yasujirō Ozu

Early Summer is a 1951 film by Yasujirō Ozu. Like most of Ozu's post-war films, Early Summer deals with many issues ranging from communication problems between generations to the rising role of women in post-war Japan.

<i>Tokyo Story</i> 1953 film by Yasujiro Ozu

Tokyo Story is a 1953 Japanese drama film directed by Yasujirō Ozu and starring Chishū Ryū and Chieko Higashiyama. It tells the story of an aging couple who travel to Tokyo to visit their grown children. The film contrasts the behavior of their children, who are too busy to pay them much attention, with that of their widowed daughter-in-law, who treats them with kindness.

A widow is a woman whose spouse has died and a widower is a man whose spouse has died. The treatment of widows and widowers around the world varies.

Hara's last major role was Riku, the wife of Ōishi Yoshio, in the film Chushingura (1962).

Ōishi Yoshio Samurai; the leader of the Forty-seven Ronin

Ōishi Yoshio was the chamberlain (karō) of the Akō Domain in Harima Province, Japan. He is known as the leader of the Forty-seven Ronin in their 1702 vendetta and thus the hero of the Chūshingura. He is often referred to by his title, Ōishi Kuranosuke (大石内蔵助).

<i>Chūshingura: Hana no Maki, Yuki no Maki</i> 1962 film directed by Hiroshi Inagaki

Chūshingura: Hana no Maki, Yuki no Maki is a 1962 color period drama Japanese film directed by Hiroshi Inagaki. The film featured Toshiro Mifune in the role of Genba Tawaraboshi.

Later years

Hara, who never married, is nicknamed "the Eternal Virgin" in Japan [1] and is a symbol of the golden era of Japanese cinema of the 1950s. [8] She quit acting in 1963 (the year Ozu died), and subsequently led a secluded life in Kamakura, where many of her films with Ozu were made, refusing all interviews and photographs. [1] [9] For years, people would speculate about her reasons for leaving the public eye. Hara herself confessed during her final press conference that she never really enjoyed acting and was only using it as a means to support her family; however, many people continued to speculate over her possible romantic involvement with Ozu, or the possibility of failing eyesight. [1]

After seeing a Setsuko Hara film, the novelist Shūsaku Endō wrote: "We would sigh or let out a great breath from the depths of our hearts, for what we felt was precisely this: Can it be possible that there is such a woman in this world?" [10]

After more than half a century of seclusion, Hara died of pneumonia at a hospital in Kanagawa prefecture, on September 5, 2015, at the age of 95. Her death was not reported by the media until November 25 of that year due to her family only approaching them later (presumably for privacy). [11] [12] [3] The anime film Millennium Actress (2001), directed by Satoshi Kon, is partly based on her life, although it was produced and released more than a decade prior to her death. [1]

Selected filmography

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Abrams, Simon (April 1, 2011). "Setsuko Hara: The diva who left Japan wanting a lot more". Capital New York. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
  2. ja:原節子
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Grimes, William (November 27, 2015), "Setsuko Hara, Japanese Star of Films by Ozu and Kurosawa, Is Dead at 95", The New York Times
  4. "ためらふ勿れ若人よ" (in Japanese). Japanese Movie Database.
  5. "ためらふ勿れ若人よ". Japanese Cinema Database (in Japanese). Agency for Cultural Affairs . Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  6. 1 2 "HARA, Setsuko". Film Reference. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
  7. Richie, Donald (April 1, 2011). "Ozu and Setsuko Hara". The Criterion Collection.
  8. Erickson, Hal. "Setsuko Hara". Allmovie.[ dead link ]
  9. Bradshaw, Peter (June 16, 2009). "The heart-wrenching performance of Setsuko Hara, Ozu's quiet muse" . Retrieved July 11, 2012.
  10. Harris, David. "Rediscover: Late Spring". Spectrum Culture. Archived from the original on May 14, 2012. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
  11. "Acting legend Setsuko Hara of Ozu film "Tokyo Story" dies at 95". Archived from the original on 2015-11-25. Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  12. 原節子さん死去、日本映画黄金期を代表する女優 日刊スポーツ 2015年11月25日
  13. High, Peter B. (2003). The Imperial Screen. Wisconsin Studies in Film. The University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 233–239. ISBN   0-299-18134-0.
  14. High, Peter B. (2003). The Imperial Screen. Wisconsin Studies in Film. The University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 239–246. ISBN   0-299-18134-0.
  15. High, Peter B. (2003). The Imperial Screen. Wisconsin Studies in Film. The University of Wisconsin Press. p. 251. ISBN   0-299-18134-0.
  16. High, Peter B. (2003). The Imperial Screen. Wisconsin Studies in Film. The University of Wisconsin Press. p. 415. ISBN   0-299-18134-0.
  17. High, Peter B. (2003). The Imperial Screen. Wisconsin Studies in Film. The University of Wisconsin Press. p. 440. ISBN   0-299-18134-0.
  18. High, Peter B. (2003). The Imperial Screen. Wisconsin Studies in Film. The University of Wisconsin Press. p. 323. ISBN   0-299-18134-0.