Today marks the 109th birthday of great Japanese auteur Yasujirô Ozu, it also means this master of cinema has left us for 49 years(Ozu was born and died on the same day).
This year, his most important film Tokyo Story was voted as the best film in the Sight & Sound top 100 films of all time directors poll.Current filmmakers are learning invaluable lessons from Ozu of how to make one’s cinema consistent through one’s career.
For me, his legacy is not only on the cinematic level, but also on a real life level, I have appreciated his attitude towards life as much as his cinema. His films are totally universal, so I recommend them to anyone who consider himself/herself as a film buff.
Quotes on Yasujiro Ozu
“I portray what should not be possible as if it should be possible, but Ozu portrays what should be possible as if it were possible, and that is much more difficult.” — Kenji Mizoguchi
“If in our century something sacred still existed… if there were something like a sacred treasure of the cinema, then for me that would have to be the work of the Japanese director, Yasujiro Ozu. He made fifty-four films. Silent films in the Twenties, black-and-white films in the Thirties and Forties, and finally colour films until his death on December 12th, 1963, on his sixtieth birthday.
As thoroughly Japanese as they are, these films are, at the same time, universal. In them, I’ve been able to recognize all families, in all the countries of the world, as well as my parents, my brother and myself. For me, never before and never again since has the cinema been so close to its essence and its purpose: to present an image of man in our century, a usable, true and valid image, in which he not only recognizes himself but from which, above all, he may learn about himself” – Wim Wenders
Make sure you have watched this documentary called Tokyo-Ga shot by Wim Wenders in 1985,here is a video clip of the interview with the famous Ozu film actor Chishu Ryu. (The entire film is included in the Criterion version of Late Spring).
Yasujiro Ozu Film Recommendations
If you have never seen any films by Yasujiro Ozu,I suggest watching any of his late color films like Equinox Flower,Floating Weeds,Late Autumn,and The End of Summer first to get general senses of the themes and language of his cinema.
Then you can watch more of his essential works like I Was Born,But…, Late Spring, Tokyo Story and An Autumn Afternoon to study his cinematic style.
There are some marvelous DVD commentaries I want to recommend to those who is already very familiar with Ozu’s cinema,these include the Roger Ebert commentary on Floating Weeds,the David Bordwell commentary on Autumn Afternoon and the David Desser commentary on Tokyo Story,all in Criterion DVDs.
Yasujiro Ozu Blu-ray Recommendations
Here are my top 5 Ozu film Blu recommendations:
1. Tokyo Story
5.An Autumn Afternoon
Finally,don’t forget to read this: 8 Things You Might not Know About Yasujiro Ozu