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Days of Youth

Days of Youth (学生ロマンス 若き日) is a 1929 silent comedy by Yasujirō Ozu. The seven or eight films he directed before this are considered lost, making Student Romance: Days of Youth, as it's also called, his earliest surviving picture.

This playful story follows two university students (Ichirō Yūki and Tatsuo Saitō) who, during winter exams, take a skiing trip to Akakura and compete for the affection of the same girl (Junko Matsui). Although what we can see is now blotchy, faded, and uneven, the film fortunately still exists. Countless others from that era have decayed beyond restoration, burned up, or were destroyed many decades ago to make space for new ones.

The snippets of 1920s Tokyo were the highlights for me, along with the slapstick scenes on the slopes, featuring some rather nasty spoilsport gags. The film also includes a number of delightful shots of smokestacks, automobiles, telephone poles, and other technologies of the time. Throughout the narrative, there's a subtle undercurrent of transience, as suggested by the title. This reflects the distinctive form of mono no aware for which Ozu would come to be known by some critics and audiences.


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