[Editor’s note: Fandor’s weekly addition from The Criterion Collection is dedicated to the indomitable actress Setsuko Hara. Here, Fandor’s Alece Oxendine pays homage to Criterion’s Three Reasons series as well as the actress with this appreciation.]
Setsuko Hara is one of the most recognizable Japanese actresses of all time. She’s more commonly known to Western audiences as Yasujirô Ozu‘s muse; a muse so loyal that she allegedly quit acting after he passed away in 1963, becoming recluse even up to today (yes she’s still alive). Which is unfortunate because three decades of her onscreen is not enough. Her more famous films, Tokyo Story and Late Spring, barely scratch the surface of her talent. But for now, with nine of her films streaming here, you have to time get acquainted, or reacquainted with her body work. Here are three reasons, as if you need them, to watch Setsuko Hara at her finest.
1. Explore Hara’s repertoire beyond the “Eternal Virgin.” She was often known as the Eternal Virgin in Japanese cinema, mainly because of her role in Late Spring. This collection shows Hara as a devoted daughter, social activist, a loving wife and more.
2. Get a snapshot of life after war in Japan. Each of Hara’s films gives a snapshot of the diverse life in Japan after the war, including the chance to see the breadth of the diverse women in mid-century Japan through the characters she has played.
3. Watch the amazing directorial work of Mikio Naruse, Yasujirô Ozu, and Akira Kurosawa. Not to detract from Hara, but she was directed by some of the greatest filmmakers in history.