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Andrea Treolo

Page history last edited by Caroline Dougherty 11 years, 9 months ago
"there were such moments of truth, no, not just moments--long range truth,
lasting from the first image to the last."
                                                                                   -director Wim Wenders on Ozu's films




    Yasujiro Ozu is a legendary Japanese director.  He was born in 1903 in Tokyo.  He began making films in the 1920's in Japan.  His first films were in black and white, but he made color films later. 


     Ozu's first films did not survive, and of 54 films only 36 survive.  Many early Japanese films did not survive, some were destroyed in the 1923 earthquake, others were destroyed during wartime.


     Ozu began working for a Japanese film company Schochiko studio in his early 20's.  His father diapproved of his work as camera man because the film industry was not highly regarded in the 1920s.  Ozu loved film from an early age.  Throughout his career he used camera techniques that were regarded as uniquely Ozu. 


    While filming, Ozu sat on tatami mats or on the traditional Japanese furniture that was low to the floor.  He also showed various scene changes by filming the actors walking down corridors.  Each of his films display perfectly framed shots, each shot contains the perfect composition.


     The theme in Ozu's work is often the family, although he never married or had a family of his own.  His work reflects the struggle of the everyday Japanese family or salaryman.  In this opening scene from Ozu's first color film in 1958, "Equinox Flower" a young newlywed couple is at their wedding reception.


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  In Ozu's most famous film "Tokyo Story" (1953) an older couple comes to Tokyo to visit their son and his wife.  Their daughter-in-law, the beautiful Noriko, portrayed by actress Setsuko Hara, is the only one to make them feel wanted.  Setsuko Hara was the chosen star of many of Ozu's films. 


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 Trailer for Tokyo Story, 1953.



     Beginning in 1949 with "Late Spring" many of Ozu's titles reference the changing of seasons.  This is a poetic statement about the cycles of life, birth and death, youth and age.  The films were not shown overseas until the 1960's, and then they were mainly shown in arthouse cinemas.  It was thought that his films were too subtle for Western audiences.  Ozu seemed to love Tokyo, he lived there, he filmed the city, and he wanted Tokyo in the name of all of his movies, but it didn't work out that way.  There are "Tokyo Story" and "Tokyo Twilight". 


    Yasujiro Ozu's cinematic accomplishments allow us to see traditional Japanese culture, as well as stories written and directed by Ozu that focus on the family, traditions, morals, and everyday scenes.  This Tokyo may no longer exist, as it was filmed 40 years ago.  Ozu presents us with a truthful and artistic view of life in Japan at this time.



Here is a list of films by Yasujiro Ozu.


Links to information about Ozu and his work.








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