Yasujiro Ozu

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zedz
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Ozu Yasujiro

#1 Post by zedz » Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:37 pm

Ozu Yasujiro (1903-1963)

Image
I formulated my own directing style in my own
head, proceeding without any unnecessary
imitation of others... for me there was no
such thing as a teacher. I have relied
entirely on my own strength.



Filmography

Days Of Youth / Wakaki Hi (1929) Panorama

I Graduated, But . . . / Daigaku wa deta keredo (1929)

A Straightforward Boy / Tokkan Kozo (1929)

Walk Cheerfully / Hogaraka ni Ayume (1930)

I Flunked, But . . . / Rakudai wa shita kerodo... (1930)

That Night's Wife / Sono yo no tsuma (1930)

The Lady and the Beard / Shukujo to Hige (1931)

Tokyo Chorus / Tokyo no Gassho (1931) Eclipse

I Was Born, But . . . / Umarete wa Mita Keredo... (1932) Eclipse

Where Now Are The Dreams Of Youth? / Seishun no Yume Ima Izuko (1932)

Woman Of Tokyo / Tokyo no Onna (1933)

Dragnet Girl / Hijosen no Onna (1933) Panorama

Passing Fancy / Dekigokoro (1933) Eclipse / Panorama

A Mother Should Be Loved / Haha o kowazuya (1934) incomplete Panorama

Story Of Floating Weeds / Ukigusa Monogatar (1934) Criterion / Panorama

An Inn In Tokyo / Tokyo no Yado (1935) Panorama

Kagamijishi (1935)

The Only Son / Hitori Musuko (1936) Panorama

What Did The Lady Forget? / Shukujo wa Nani o Wasuretaka (1937) Panorama

Brothers And Sisters Of The Toda Family / Toda-ke no Kyodai (1941) Panorama

There Was A Father / Chichi Ariki (1942) Panorama

Record Of A Tenement Gentleman / Nagaya Shinshi Roku (1947) Panorama / Tartan

A Hen In The Wind / Kaze no Naka no Mendori (1948) Criterion / Panorama

Late Spring / Banshun (1949) Criterion / Tartan

The Munekata Sisters / Munekata Shimai (1950)

Early Summer / Bakushu (1951) Criterion / Tartan

The Flavour Of Green Tea Over Rice / Ochazuke no Aji (1952) Tartan

Tokyo Story / Tokyo Monogatari (1953) Criterion / Tartan

Early Spring / Soshun (1956) Eclipse / Panorama

Tokyo Twilight / Tokyo Boshoku (1957) Eclipse / Panorama / Tartan

Equinox Flower / Higan-Bana (1958) Eclipse / Panorama / Tartan

Good Morning / Ohayo (1959) Criterion / Tartan /

Floating Weeds / Ukigusa (1959) Criterion

Late Autumn / Akibiyori (1960) Eclipse / Tartan / Panorama

End Of Summer / Kohayagawa-ke no Aki (1961) Eclipse / Artificial Eye

An Autumn Afternoon / Sanma no Aji (1962) Panorama / Tartan


Forum Discussions

An Autumn Afternoon (Criterion)

Early Summer (Criterion)

Good Morning (Criterion)

A Hen in the Wind

Late Spring (Criterion)

Ozu DVDs from Panorama

Eclipse Series 10: Silent Ozu: Three Family Comedies

Tokyo Story (Criterion)

Eclipse Series 3: Late Ozu

A Story of Floating Weeds and Floating Weeds (Criterion)

Tartan

Japanese Films Not on DVD


Web Resources

Apart From You - Michael Kerpan (Senses of Cinema)

From Behind the Camera: A New Look at the World of Director Yasujiro Ozu (Tokyo University Digital Museum)

The Composer's Eye - Chris Fujiwara (The Boston Phoenix)

Ozu-san (A2p Cinema)

Ozu's Angry Women - Shigehiko Hasumi (Rouge)

Passing Fancy - Michael Kerpan (Senses of Cinema)

Yasujiro Ozu - Nick Wrigley (Senses of Cinema)

Yasujiro Ozu (Masters of Cinema)

Yasujiro Ozu - Acquarello (Strictly Film School)

The World of Yasujiro Ozu - Michael Arnold, Jasper Sharp & Tom Mes (Midnight Eye)


Books

Classic Japanese Screenplays: Ozu Yasujiro's Early Summer - D.A. Rajakaruna, translator (Kandy Offset, 1997)

Japanese Film Directors - Audie Bock (Kodansha, 1985)

Ozu: His Life and Films - Donald Richie (University of California Press, 1977)

Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema - David Bordwell (Princeton University Press, 1988)

Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema - online edition with new introduction

Ozu's Anti-Cinema - Yoshida Kiju, Daisuke Miyao & Kyoko Hirano (University of Michigan, 2003)

Ozu's Tokyo Story - David Desser, editor (Cambridge University Press, 1997)

Reframing Japanese Cinema: Authorship, Genre, History - Arthur Nolletti Jr. & David Desser (Indiana University Press, 1992)

Tokyo Story: The Ozu/Noda Screenplay - Yasujiro Ozu & Kogo Noda - Donald Richie, editor (Stone Bridge Press, 2003)

Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer - Paul Schrader (Da Capo, 1988)
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#2 Post by Steven H » Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:37 pm

Before the site went down I posted something about comparing Late Autumn (Bright Autumn Weather) to Late Spring, and mentioned how in Late Autumn there seemed to be a self-referential moment (the old men in the second to last scene referring to Yuriko as a "shocker" when relative to Late Spring she certainly was). I think I also talked about whether or not both films would be paired together by Criterion (though 90% of me says "no" because Late Spring is more popular (though I like both equally as two of my favorite Ozu films).

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#3 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Nov 04, 2004 9:41 am

Equinox Flower

An introduction by Wim Wenders and the interviews of Chishu Ryu and Atsuta Yuharu from "Tokyo Ga"

Good Morning

Jean-Pierre Jackson's "Ozu, éternel contemporain" (a 52 minute documentary made in 2003)

Late Autumn

Interview of actress Mariko Okada by Charles Tesson

End of Summer

Pascal-Alex Vincent's documentary "Setsuko Hara, la disparue"

Autumn Afternoon

Interview of director Yoshishige (Kiju) Yoshida by Charles Tesson

Query, has anyone here actually watched any of the contents of this set? The extras seem rather attractive.

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#4 Post by Arn777 » Thu Nov 04, 2004 10:04 am

I haven't (patiently waiting for Criterion to relaese more Ozu) but there was an article/review in Cahiers du Cinéma a few months ago, and they didn't particularly rave about the supplements, considering them only midly interesting (although they tend to focus much more on the films when writing about DVDs).

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#5 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Nov 04, 2004 10:14 am

Did Cahiers comment on the quality of the DVD transfers -- or would that have been considered too mundane a consideration?

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#6 Post by Arn777 » Thu Nov 04, 2004 10:47 am

Much too mundane I'm afraid. They very rarely comment on the transfers. IIRC, they only mentioned that I was Born but, was bad.

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#7 Post by artfilmfan » Sun Nov 14, 2004 7:51 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:Did Cahiers comment on the quality of the DVD transfers -- or would that have been considered too mundane a consideration?
As I recall, the colors of some scenes in End of Summer looked washed out. In these scenes, the actors/actresses looked so pale. The UK/AE version looks better.

On the other hand, the colors of Equinox Flowers are a little too saturated (compared to the Japanese/Shochiku release).

Here's a little bit more information on this French boxset (after I went through the content some more today):

Late Autumn doesn't even look as good as the Panorama release.

I Was Born, But ... indeed looks bad. It looks almost like a VHS tape. Also, maybe it's just an overscan problem associated with my multi-region code player, the picture looks zoomed in (the heads of actors often get chopped off at the top)

I seem to recall having seen the 7-minute Chishu Ryu interview on the Equinox Flower disc somewhere before. He sits just outside a door of a temple during a rainy day while being interviewed. Maybe I saw it when I received this boxset some months ago or in one of the three Shochiku boxsets that I have.

With regard to the Jean-Pierre Jackson's 52-minute documentary on the Good Morning disc, I don't think you'll find/learn anything new if you have already seen all of the films in the four Shochiku boxsets and the documentary on the Criterion release of Tokyo Story. There are no subtitles (for the narrative) on this documentary. I understand very little French and it didn't help not having the French subtitles to read. The documentary touches upon the Ozu films contained in the Shochiku boxsets (essentially the whole range of his survived films) and I think the narrator points out the styles and themes of Ozu's films at various stages of his career. You get to see excerpts from his various films (nice if you don't own the Shochiku boxsets). For me, one of the strange things was to see an excerpt from a non-Ozu film near the beginning of the documentary (did they make a mistake?). Also, at about 28 minutes into the documentary, for a few minutes, they show excerpts from films by Mizoguchi, Seijun Suzuki, A. Kurosawa, and K. Ichikawa. I'm not sure what the purpose is (maybe to compare or contrast Ozu to those directors?).

The interview on the Late Autum disc is very short. Are there two interviews? I only saw one and I didn't recognize the actress being interviewed.

The documentary on Setsuko Hara is 15 minute long. It shows excerpts from Ozu's films with Hara in them and from a few non-Ozu films (I think one of these films is The Idiot). It also shows some movie posters (such as "No Regrets for Our Youth", "Early Summer", etc. ) and some nice still-photography shots of Hara. No French subtitles for the narrative.

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#8 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Nov 14, 2004 8:02 pm

Oh well, it sounds like I can save my money -- and not add the French set to my Ozu collection.

BTW, if the Panorama "Late Autumn" looks like the Shochiku DVD (which used the same digital base), it should look fairly good.

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#9 Post by artfilmfan » Mon Nov 15, 2004 8:58 pm

Considering that you already have the Shochiku boxsets, I agree that you could save your money by not buying the French boxset. I bought it back in July as an attempt at not "having to buy" the Shochiku boxsets #1 and #4. However, after checking the quality of the discs briefly when I received the boxset, I quickly concluded that I had to buy the Shochiku boxset #1 (I had already bought # 2 and #3). I'm still resisting the temptation to buy #4 :) There are 3 films in the #4 boxset that I really want to have (I Was Born, But ..., Woman of Tokyo and Lady and the Beard). But, it's hard to justify spending that much money on this set (that's what I've been telling myself).

I haven't compared the Shochiku and Panorama Late Autumn discs closely, but the Panorama release looks very good to me. If it doesn't look the same as the Shochiku, I think it is very close. (The Arte Late Autumn looks somewhat faded, with very noticeable color fluctuation).

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#10 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Nov 15, 2004 11:43 pm

Treasures in Ozu Box 4:

Days of Youth (the best Harold Lloyd movie made by anyone other than Harold Lloyd himself)

Walk Cheerfully (the most visually playful and delightful movie Ozu ever made)

Lady and the Beard (Ozu's best pure comedy)

I Was Born But (no need to comment)

Woman of Tokyo (Ozu goes expressionistic)

Dragnet Girl (Ozu's best gangster film -- Tanaka is wonderful -- and Little Nipper gets a featured role)

The rest:

Almost everything else is very interesting -- and many other films approach the level of wonderful. No crazed Ozu fan should be without it --and most of the contents are not likely to suface anywhere else any time soon (if ever).

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#11 Post by artfilmfan » Tue Nov 16, 2004 8:47 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote: No crazed Ozu fan should be without it --and most of the contents are not likely to suface anywhere else any time soon (if ever).
What temptation! This Shochiku boxset #4 is really tempting!
Last edited by artfilmfan on Wed Dec 01, 2004 8:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#12 Post by denti alligator » Tue Nov 16, 2004 9:37 pm

I downloaded I Was Born, But from emule. The picture quality is better than I expected, only it doesn't have any subtitles. Is there anywhere I might find these so that I can read along while I watch the film?

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#13 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Nov 16, 2004 10:23 pm

I haven't located any online Ozu script translations yet. I guess you could borrow the New Yorker video from a library, and copy the English subtitles by hand. ;~{

I bought the 2-volume Japanese script collection -- but I won't be able to read this for years (speaking optimistically). Even if I do learn to reaq this, it doesn't capture the final filmed scripts, but only the scripts as initially written (and there are changes here and there).

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#14 Post by Steven H » Wed Dec 01, 2004 12:56 am

I watched Tokyo Twilight today for the first time and think it's now my favorite Ozu film. I don't know where to begin with my praise. Ryu Chishu picking up the rattle and chuckling made my jaw drop, no wonder this film failed commercially... it practically gives the finger to Late Spring. Everyone wearing winter coats (hats, smoking, etc... more scenery chewing than usual in an Ozu film I think), losing loved ones within a city setting, people being together yet either not communicating (the father and his two daughters rarely seemed to connect at all) or playing games (mah jong and pachinko), talk of pointing blame, and self-obsession until it's too late.

Unfortunately I didn't understand all of the french subtitles (maybe 25%) so I'm probably missing a lot (Gihei's monologue, and both Takako and Akiko's conversations with their mother later in the film especially, though I have a general idea of what they're talking about). I hope like crazy Criterion decides to put this out (or Tartan... or Panorama even) I think it's better than most of his other 50s films (classic among classics). See this if you can, with or without subtitles (I just followed Bordwell's plot outline in Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema and had no problem getting caught up the film) as it contains some of the most beautiful moments I can think of (Takako after her mother brings flowers...).

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#15 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Dec 01, 2004 9:24 am

I'm pretty sure this is in my Ozu top 5 -- but "Tokyo Story" and "Late Spring" typically contend for the very top spot on my list.

It was wonderful seeing this screened at the Harvard Film Archive -- with English subtitles. Even the new Shochiku DVD doesn't do full justice to the wintry night-time scenes.

Some of those "beautiful moments" you mention were (paradoxically) simultaneously very distressing.
SpoilerShow
BTW, after watching this properly subtitled in English, our whole household was pretty well convinced that the death in this film was accidental, not suicide.
When Shinoda visited Harvard, he told us that Ozu was extremely upset by the public rejection of this film. One hopes that, before the film reaches its 50th birthday, it will finally receive recoognition of its status as one of Ozu's greatest masterpieces.

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#16 Post by Steven H » Wed Dec 01, 2004 3:40 pm

Beautiful in a distressing way, I think.

Interesting about the suicide/accidental death though, and I'm sure a critical reassessment should be right around the corner.

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#17 Post by artfilmfan » Wed Dec 01, 2004 9:07 pm

harri wrote:I watched Tokyo Twilight today for the first time and think it's now my favorite Ozu film. ... I hope like crazy Criterion decides to put this out (or Tartan... or Panorama even) I think it's better than most of his other 50s films (classic among classics)
I wish Tartan would include Tokyo Twilight or Hen in the Wind in their upcoming Ozu boxset #2. I worry that we might have to wait a long time for the subtitled releases of these two films.

Tokyo Twilight is wonderful and heartbreaking.

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#18 Post by flambeur » Thu Dec 02, 2004 2:34 pm

I Was Born, But ... indeed looks bad. It looks almost like a VHS tape. Also, maybe it's just an overscan problem associated with my multi-region code player, the picture looks zoomed in (the heads of actors often get chopped off at the top).

I just saw this last night at Cinematheque in Toronto and the print was very bad in some parts (very dark, lots of dust, specs, etc) and yes the heads of actors were often chopped off, so it sounds like the source material wasn't that great..interesting movie though, a bit similar to Good Morning..or was Good Morning some sort of remake with a different situation..won't eat until TV arrives?

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#19 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Dec 02, 2004 10:01 pm

...look rather grungy. "I Was Born But" actually looks better than average for its age.

The missing heads here -- mainly a deliberate cinematographic joke by Ozu. He does this more here than in any other film -- perhaps it is reflective of a child's eye viewpoint?

Conventional wisom has persisted in labeling "good Morning" a "re-make" of "I Was Born But". As is so often the case, conventional wisdom is wrong. The two films do share the motif of a children's strike, but that about all. The older film focuses on social roles (and rankings) -- and the strike (refusing to eat) results from the children's unhappiness over their father's subservience to his boss -- when they see the boss's son as a pushover who THEY can push around. In the later film, the theme is social communication (and the use of conventional speech to avoid communication). In this, the strike is simply the result of the children's failure to get a TV -- but is manifested by a refusal to speak at all.

More like a matched complementary set -- than an original and a copy. "Passing Fancy" could also probably be put in this same set.

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#20 Post by obloquy » Fri Dec 03, 2004 7:31 pm

February. I'm going to catch Tokyo Story, Tokyo Twilight, There Was A Father, and hopefully Record of a Tenement Gentleman. That's about all I can do without taking time off of work. I chose this weekend because of everyone's praise of Tokyo Twilight. This will be my first time seeing anything but wide-release pop-movies in a real theater: that's what I get for living in Spokane.

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#21 Post by artfilmfan » Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:17 pm

obloquy wrote:I'm going to try and catch as many as I can, but I'm not exactly sure what to prioritize- any suggestions would be appreciated.
Assuming that you've already seen the ones released by Criterion, if you have a chance to see these films, don't miss them: Tokyo Twilight, Late Spring, Equinox Flower, The Only Son, An Autumn Afternoon, Late Autumn, Early Spring, An Inn in Tokyo. These other ones are really good, too: Passing Fancy, Woman of Tokyo, What Did the Lady Forget?, Hen in the Wind.

Late Spring and Equinox Flower are No. 1 and 3, respectively, on my list of top Ozu films. Competing for the No. 4 spot are: Early Summer, Tokyo Twilight, Late Autumn, The Only Son, and Floating Weeds.

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#22 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat Dec 04, 2004 12:16 am

I can't quibble with any or artfilmfan's recommendations.

I also recommend -- to get more of a flavor of the early work: "I Was Born But", "Lady and the Beard" (Ozu's best surviving pure comedy) and "Dragnet Girl" (a talkie -- but with subtitles -- and Kinuyo Tanaka is wonderful here). I don't see "Walk Cheeerfully" -- but I'd recommend it if it WERE being shown (Ozu's most visually playful film).

I really like "Early Spring" and "Tenement Gentleman" -- and these both have strong links with Ozu's 30s films.

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#23 Post by artfilmfan » Sun Dec 05, 2004 11:32 am

Michael Kerpan wrote:Conventional wisdom has persisted in labeling "Good Morning" a "re-make" of "I Was Born But". As is so often the case, conventional wisdom is wrong. The two films do share the motif of a children's strike, but that about all.
I agree. I think conventional wisdom is wrong in this case.

Also, upon further reflection, I agree with your assessment, posted at the old version of this forum, that the title of Early Spring signifies the renewal of the couple's relationship.

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#24 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Dec 05, 2004 3:37 pm

Also, upon further reflection, I agree with your assessment, posted at the old version of this forum, that the title of Early Spring signifies the renewal of the couple's relationship.
And the funny thing is, I just made that explanation up after I first read your question -- as a wild guess. But, on reflection, I think this as a pretty good one after all. When I think of the film, I can see the image of new life emerging from ground that was, until recently, snow covered and frozen.

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#25 Post by artfilmfan » Mon Dec 06, 2004 10:10 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:And the funny thing is, I just made that explanation up after I first read your question -- as a wild guess.
And here I was, thinking that it was a scholarly and well-thought through explanation! :)

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