Floating Weeds (Ukikusa) is a full-length Japanese film that was released in 1959. Floating Weeds was directed by Yasujiro Ozu, who was an extremely influential Japanese director. He is responsible for many famous movies including Tokyo Spring and The End Of Summer. Cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa created the stunning shots in Floating Weeds. Miyagawa worked with some of Japan’s finest directors, including Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi and the famous Akira Kurosawa. Floating Weeds is, interestingly enough, a remake of Ozu’s original silent film, A Story Of Floating Weeds, which was released in 1934. It is not often that a director gets a second chance to create the same movie.
Komajuro is a man with secrets. The movie starts in small town. A Kabuki troupe has come to the village to perform for the town. The town seems to care less. They are not interested in watching the Kabuki tribe at all. Even though the troupe passes out flyers, there are very few people who come to watch the opening performance. Distressed and disheartened, Komajuro decides to go to the local saki bar. At the bar he encounters his old lover, Oyoshi. Oyoshi and Komajuro managed to have a son named Kiyoshi. Kiyoshi is fully grown but does not realize that Komajuro is his father. Komajuro is ashamed that he is a poor performer and wants his son to become more than he has. Kiyoshi believes that his father is truly his Uncle.
Sumiko is the leading star of the Kabuki troupe. She is also Sumiko’s mistress. When she discovers about Sumiko’s previous relationship and his grown son, she becomes extremely jealous. She hires an actress, Kayo, to seduce Kiyoshi. She is in hopes that when Kayo seduces, and then leaves, Kiyoshi, Komajuro will be humiliated. Kiyoshi and Kayo end up falling I love, however, which messes up Sumiko’s plans. Komajuro is furious about his son falling in love with an actress, because he fears that Kiyoshi will end up just like he has. He can not say anything to Kiyoshi, though, because he has not admitted that he is his father.
Time passes and Komajuro gets more and more upset. He is torn between telling his son who he is and leaving the situation be the way it is. Komajuro eventually ends up physically hurting Sumiko, Kayo and his beloved son, Kiyoshi. Only in the end can he learn to accept his situation, and the situation his son is in.
In 2004, Floating Weeds became available to purchase in the United States. It came as a two pack, with Floating Weeds being one disc, and the original A Story Of Floating Weeds being the other. Also, interestingly enough, Roger Ebert felt the movie was worthy enough to contain his commentary on the DVD version.
The first version, the black and white one, is the first time that Ozu uses a sackcloth as the background for the credits. It became his signature trademark and most of his later movies use a sackcloth for the credits to roll against.