SUMMER CLOUDS (Iwashigumo)
This ensemble piece recounts the lives of a family of farmers by interweaving several different storylines. Holding these stories together is the central figure of a young war widow torn between maintaining her independence and the necessity of remarrying. This is a familiar predicament for Naruse’s heroines, but the film represents a change of pace for the director in many other ways. For one thing, it is his first widescreen color film. Also, while the typical Naruse film takes place in the city, even if its characters often journey into the countryside, here the setting is resolutely rural. The result traces change in postwar Japan (another typical Naruse concern) from the point of view of the farming peasantry, as land reform and economic growth exacerbate the generation gap between restless youngsters and their tradition-bound elders.