20 May 2006

The Films of Yasujiro Ozu

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There is an an excellent introduction to the films of Yasujiro Ozu posted today on YARGB by the Boulder mathematician who signs himself MeaninglessHotAir, which is also described as “posted by Loner.”

the camera is usually stationary and positioned to capture the point-of-view of a person sitting on the floor. Most of the edits are straight cuts. There are no special lenses. There is no cross-cutting. There are no flashbacks. There are no dream sequences. There are no ghosts. There are no Samurai. From 1935 on there is sound and from 1958 on there is color. In that final movie the camera never moves within a shot and there is not one edit that isn’t a straight cut.

For Ozu, like Hitchcock, a movie was largely done when the shooting script was finished. He generally had a collaborator and for the final thirteen movies that collaborator was Kogo Noda. The scripts are all about character. What plot there is is in the service of the characters and the characters were generally created with specific actors in mind. When it came to shooting the script, Ozu told the actors exactly how he wanted everything done (though not generally why) and they did it and did it and did it until he was satisfied. What are his movies about? Donald Richie suggests in his Introduction to Ozu, that Ozu “had but one major subject, the Japanese family, and but one major theme, its dissolution.”

Those interested in this director will also find this essay of interest.


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