Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Three films by Yasujiro Ozu
Yasujiro Ozu (1903-1963)
The films he made were way ahead of their time. The sub-titles, of course, cannot be overlooked but the stories and the characters cast a spell that transcends the location and language. Those who like Satyajit Ray's films will find similarities.
"Yasujiro Ozu creates a poignant and exquisitely realized portrait of devotion, separation, and familial love in Late Spring. By providing minimal plot and eliminating external catalysts, Ozu portrays an honest reflection of contemporary Japanese middle and lower class family life, the shomin-geki. Stripped of a manipulative and artificial storyline, Late Spring reveals a sincere concern for the plight of the common man, an affectionate celebration for the subtle beauty of everyday life, and a profound sympathy for the inevitable passage of time."
An Autumn Afternoon (1962)
"In his final film Yasujiro Ozu returns to the story of a widowed father giving up his favorite daughter in marriage, only to be left alone. The setting is the industrialized Japan of the 1960s, with small but intense traces of traditional Japanese culture and morals present in each of the characters and their struggles. The melancholy of the widowed father as he drinks away his sorrows at a favorite bar is portrayed in a sweet and gentle treatment, and the aesthetic beauty of the film's heightened color and peaceful pacing make this one of Ozu’s most beautiful and touching films."
Tokyo Story (1953)
"Yasujiro Ozu’s most widely distributed and best-known film presents the story of an elderly couple in post World War II Japan who come to Tokyo to visit their various children and realize that the family has essentially fallen apart. The couple is received coldly by their two modernized children and only their widowed daughter-in-law seems glad to see them. The children shuttle their aging parents off to a health spa in an attempt to get them out of the way. They learn later that the mother has fallen ill upon her return and arrive too late to say their good-byes."
Chisu Ryu (think of Gregory Peck) stars in all of them.
Film buffs might like to read Peter Bradshaw's tribute to Ozu in The Guardian, June 10, 2005.
"Debates over the best film of all time tend to go no further than Hollywood classics such as Citizen Kane. But the influential Halliwell's Film Guide now says the title belongs to Tokyo Story, a little-known Japanese film in which nothing much happens."
Guardian-Peter Bradshaw-The Quiet Master