Co-presented with the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre
Dec 23, 2021 – Jan 3, 2022
In celebration of the 100th birthday of beloved Japanese actress and icon Hara Setsuko, The Cinematheque and the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre proudly present Ozu Yasujiro’s so-called “Noriko Trilogy,” the cycle of immortal masterworks, informally named after Hara’s onscreen counterparts, that endeared the luminous talent to movielovers the world over.
Born Aida Masae in 1920 in Yokohama, Japan, Hara Setsuko was given her stage name at the age of 15 by Nikkatsu Studios after being cast as a provincial shop owner’s daughter in Taguchi Tetsu’s 1935 film Do Not Hesitate, Young Folks! Her career and popularity flourished during wartime, but it was her 12-year collaboration with Ozu Yasujiro, starting with 1949’s exquisite Late Spring, that cemented her legend and indelibly linked Hara with the nuanced, tenderhearted women she embodied in the Japanese master’s sublime domestic dramas.
Her (regressive) epithet as Japan’s “Eternal Virgin” stems from her earliest and most arresting performances for Ozu, in which she portrays three devoted yet self-willed daughters, each named Noriko, who are reluctant to marry. Colloquially known as the “Noriko Trilogy,” these works — Late Spring, Early Summer (1951), Tokyo Story (1953) — are among cinema’s most serene and highly regarded treasures; they are also unthinkable without the grace, beauty, and subtle emotional complexity Hara affords them.
“Hara Setsuko was one of the great presences of world cinema.”
“One of the greatest stars in cinema history … I defy anyone to watch [Tokyo Story] and not feel simply overwhelmed with a kind of love for Hara — however absurd that may sound.”
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
The “Noriko Trilogy” was originally scheduled to screen at The Cinematheque in December 2020, but was postponed due to provincial health orders, which closed cinemas in B.C. We are delighted to present this rescheduled Hara Setsuko centenary program for the 2021 holiday season, albeit now as a belated birthday celebration.