Yasujiro Ozu

Discussion and info on people in film, ranging from directors to actors to cinematographers to writers.

Moderator: DarkImbecile

Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

#76 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Feb 10, 2005 2:49 pm

You should have gone to see "Tokyo Story" -- it's ever so much nicer on the big screen (the print should have been pretty similar to the Criterion DVD -- same source basically)

Actually, I like the last part of "I Was Born But" even more than the earlier parts -- but the film does shift gears. Watching this in silence might make this even clearer -- but it was interesting to see it with live benshi narration.

The message of "There was a Father" is undercut by Ozu at the very end -- where it is actually pretty clear that although the son loved his father -- he never really accepted his father's placing of duty over human ties.

"Tenement Gentleman" is a treat. Have you seen Kitano's "Kikujiro"? If so, do you see any connections. ;~} Choko Iida is utterly wonderful in her last Ozu part-- and it's interesting seeing Mitsuko Yoshikawa (the mother from IWBB) in her farewell Ozu performance. I love (the young looking) Chishu Ryu's singing performance too.

If you can read French, my French-subbed copy of "Tokyo Twilight" is available for loan. (too bad you missed this -- it really benefits from theatrical screening -- and English subs).

"What Did the Lady Forget" is Ozu's most thoroughly Lubitsh-esque film. It is also your only chance to see one of Ozu's first stars (Sumiko Kurishima -- the first real "star" actress of Japan) in one of his films (all the others are lost). Both Kurishima and Saito are extremely funny. Michiko Kuwano (as the "naughty" niece) is also a delight. This has a lot of links to "Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice" -- and if one likes the later film, one might find the earlier one equally delightful. Curiously, this film seems to be in better shape than either its predecessors or its successors (the best _sounding_ film until the post-war ones).

rlendog
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 6:30 pm

#77 Post by rlendog » Thu Feb 10, 2005 7:33 pm

When I saw Tokyo Story at BAM I thought the print looked worse than my Criterion DVD. Although maybe I had misremembered the DVDs flaws, or maybe the flaws in the print were overly magnified by the large screen.

I was most sorry to have missed There Was a Father and Early Spring during the BAM Ozu retrospective. But I did manage to get hold of the R3 DVD of Early Spring, which is actually region-free on ebay, and recently had a chance to watch it. I thought it was excellent, just a notch behind my favorite Ozus (Tokyo Story and Early Summer, and perhaps Late Spring as well). The tone is a little different than the other 50s Ozu I've seen, but it still works well. Especially with the dearth of R1 Ozu DVDs I would recommend this to anyone if you can get it at a decent price (I paid about $17 including shipping). BTW this seems to be the only R3 Ozu DVD that actually plays in all regions.

I'm still disappointed to have missed There Was a Father, since who knows when I'll get another opportnuity. And with the kind words above for Record of a Tennament Gentleman, I am getting tempted to bid next time the tape becomes available on ebay, although I had always thought this one was a relatively minor work and not worth the price it seems to command.

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

#78 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Feb 10, 2005 8:49 pm

I wouldn't spend a high price on the old New Yorker video of "Tenement Gentleman" -- this video was okay -- but not quite as good as the R2J DVD. It will be coming out in the UK soon on DVD.

Probably the traveling prints are more battered now than when I saw them a year ago. But, even so, seeing these screened is a very good thing.

The Panorama "Late Autumn" looks almost as nice as the Japanese DVD -- and has passable (or better) English subs. I highly recommend this HK DVD. (Available inexpensively at YesAsia).

I really like "Early Spring". It is nice to see Chikage Awashima get a shot at a lead role (where she is very different from the comic side-kick she plays elsewhere in Ozu). This is thematically linked to Ozu's 1930s salaryman films -- more than to his more typical late ones.

artfilmfan
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:11 pm

#79 Post by artfilmfan » Thu Feb 10, 2005 10:43 pm

FilmFanSea wrote:I hope to see all of these, except perhaps What Did the Lady Forget?, unless anyone feels it is a must-see.
Another vote for "Lady". It's a very good film. I think I gave it four stars (out of five) when I saw it last year. This one may not be released with English subtitles anytime soon (if ever). So, don't miss your chance to see it.

User avatar
FilmFanSea
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:37 pm
Location: Portland, OR

#80 Post by FilmFanSea » Fri Feb 11, 2005 3:23 am

Thanks for the comments & suggestions, Michael & artfilmfan.

I just returned from seeing Woman of Tokyo (1933). The commissioned score was written by the very talented Wayne Horvitz (a protegé of John Zorn), and played live by a quintet: piano (Horvitz), double bass, drums, saxophone, and xylophone. The film is a very concentrated melodrama (only 47 minutes) about sacrifice and shame (a young woman secretly works as a prostitute to pay for her brother's education, and then her double-life is unmasked). The plot could be described completely in just a few sentences, but Ozu's brilliant camerawork and editing raise what could have been a banal film to a near-masterpiece (he completed it in eight days).

The score was very Western in character and worked seamlessly with the film---it's eclectic but accessible, inventive and moving and jazzy. The combination of the music & the film left me transfixed. All of the commissioned scores are being recorded for potential use on future DVD releases. I can't wait to revisit this film, but I bet it'll be a long wait ...

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

#81 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Feb 11, 2005 9:38 am

Thanks for the ongoing report.

My sense is that "Woman of Tokyo" owes a big debt to "Last Laugh". This film has a remarkably expressionistic look (despite remaining entirely realistic). Ther two female lead performances (Yoshiko Okada and Kinuyo Tanaka) are tremendous (the student brother is probably the film's weakest link). Did you recognize Chishu Ryu (confirmed) and Daisuke Kato (not yet confirmed) as two of the young reporters badgering Tanaka at the end.

User avatar
FilmFanSea
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:37 pm
Location: Portland, OR

#82 Post by FilmFanSea » Fri Feb 11, 2005 1:31 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:My sense is that "Woman of Tokyo" owes a big debt to "Last Laugh". This film has a remarkably expressionistic look (despite remaining entirely realistic). Ther two female lead performances (Yoshiko Okada and Kinuyo Tanaka) are tremendous (the student brother is probably the film's weakest link). Did you recognize Chishu Ryu (confirmed) and Daisuke Kato (not yet confirmed) as two of the young reporters badgering Tanaka at the end.
I definitely thought of Murnau as I was watching this film. I agree that the student/brother was weak--a very stagey, unnatural performance (and his makeup didn't help--I kept waiting for his mascara to run). I didn't recognize Chishu Ryu---he must've been the reporter who hung back at the door while the other two grilled the sister & girlfriend.

User avatar
backstreetsbackalright
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2004 6:49 pm
Location: 313

#83 Post by backstreetsbackalright » Fri Feb 11, 2005 7:40 pm

I didn't recognize Chishu Ryu---he must've been the reporter who hung back at the door while the other two grilled the sister & girlfriend.
Saw that last night also. I was unclear about Ryu's appearance too. He *may* have been one of the reporters, but he was definitely one of the two men in the closing scene. Which leads me to the bigger question: who were the two characters at the end? And (please forgive if this sounds dense) what exactly was the meaning of that last scene?

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

#84 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Feb 11, 2005 8:01 pm

The guys in the closing scene are the reporters again. They leave the house after harassing Tanaka unsuccessfully -- then after they leave they see a promotional flyer for the next edition indicating that one of their colleagues has scored a hot crime story while they were wasting their time on a story that went nowhere.

Ryu is the tallest and skinniest of the three -- my hypothesized Daisuke Kato is the slightly roundish, shorter one. (Normally at this period I think Kato was part of the technical crew).

artfilmfan
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:11 pm

#85 Post by artfilmfan » Tue Feb 15, 2005 10:40 pm

I noticed that Amazon UK now lists May 29 (?) as the release date for Tartan's Ozu boxset #2. I hope Tartan will take the time to avoid the NTSC-PAL conversion problems that were present in their Noriko Trilogy boxset. And while they're at it, they should correct the problems in the Noriko Trilogy by releasing Version 2 of that boxset. :)

User avatar
Nihonophile
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 12:57 am
Location: Florida
Contact:

#86 Post by Nihonophile » Wed Feb 16, 2005 12:03 am

Sorry if this has been answered, but...

How many of Ozu's Pre-WW2 films are available in R1?

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

#87 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Feb 16, 2005 12:17 am

Nihonophile wrote: How many of Ozu's Pre-WW2 films are available in R1?
One -- "Story of Floating Weeds" included in Criterion's "Floating Weeds" set. It was sort of expected that another one -- "The Only Son" -- might be released by Criterion in 2005. But nothing has been heard about this recently.

I wouldn't expect any other pre-WW2 Ozu releases from Criterion until 2006 at the earliest.

User avatar
Nihonophile
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 12:57 am
Location: Florida
Contact:

#88 Post by Nihonophile » Wed Feb 16, 2005 1:43 am

I couldn't be sure..but that's what i feared. were any put on VHS at least?

User avatar
FilmFanSea
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:37 pm
Location: Portland, OR

#89 Post by FilmFanSea » Wed Feb 16, 2005 3:57 am

Seattle Ozu Retrospective, week 2:

I saw five films this week (I discussed Woman of Tokyo in my last post).

An Autumn Afternoon (1962) was Ozu's last film, and is very similar in plot to Late Spring (1949). This was my first viewing. Based on my reading, I expected more of a poignant, valedictory film (though I know that Ozu's cancer hadn't yet been diagnosed at the time it was made, though he did suffer a stroke in 1961). To me, the pacing seemed particularly slow (even by Ozu standards), and the film never quite came together for me. The print was the best in the series so far (with a cool, blue-green tinge--I'm assuming--due to the Agfa film stock).

Late Spring, on the other hand, was a masterpiece. Funny and moving. This was Setsuko Hara's first film for Ozu, and she is radiant. Her Noriko is much more independent/defiant than her demure chaacter of the same name in Tokyo Story. Chishu Ryu (dependable as ever) is her widowed father who wishes to see his "ancient" 26-year-old daughter marry. The camerawork is more freewheeling than in later Ozu (e.g. the bike ride with Hattori). The print quality was disappointing: very contrasty, poor detail, and a lot of wear. I really look forward to Criterion releasing this one (hopefully looking much better than this print).

Dragnet Girl (1933) concerns an innocent-looking girl (Kinuyo Tanaka, who played the ingenue girlfriend in Woman of Tokyo) leading a double life: a dependable office-worker by day, who is dating a volatile ex-boxer, who is the leader of a petty gang (Yakuza wannabe?). She's a real bad girl in disguise. Unfortunately, I dozed off several times in this film and missed some key plot points, which undoubtedly diminished my enjoyment. The friend I was with really enjoyed it. The musical accompaniment was a trio of guitar, keyboards, and drums, led by composer John Atkins. Their composition was more of an extended jam session with a lot of repetitive cascading figures, which didn't really work for me. The print quality was average.

What Did the Lady Forget? (1937) is a sparkling comedy concerning an upper class henpecked husband. An independent-minded visiting niece causes heartache for the aunt with her impudent ways, and ultimately convinces her uncle to stand up to the wife. This was Ozu's second talkie (after The Only Son), and it certainly shows his debt to Lubitsch. The print condition was pretty wretched (on a par with There Was a Father), but it didn't spoil this wonderful film.

My plans for Week 3 include:

Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family (1941)

Equinox Flower (1958)

Ohayo/Good Morning (1959) --NWFF is presenting this in "family-friendly" matinees on three successive Saturday mornings, in which the subtitles will be read aloud by actors (to accomodate younger children), so I may end up skipping this & re-watching my DVD.

I don't plan to attend (due to my limited budget and a few schedule conflicts):

That Night's Wife (1930) Silent w/ accompaniment
Floating Weeds (1959)
The Lady and the Beard (1931) Silent w/ accompaniment

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

#90 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Feb 16, 2005 9:26 am

I think you may have approached "Autumn Afternoon" from the wrong direction. It is indeed somewhat similar to "Late Spring" -- but is, in essence, a comic re-make (and one of Ozu's funniest late films). The key difference is that the close bond between father and daughter is missing here. In fact, he literally knows almost nothing about her. Ryu is not the sort of monster here that he is in "Tokyo Twilight", but he is a bit self-absorbed and negligent aqs a parent. We are never privy to the daughter's decision to accept an arranged marriage here -- but my guess has always been that she decides it will be easier to deal with a husband than with her aggravating family. This has some of my favorite comic scenes frrom Ozu -- such as the one with Daisuke Kato and Chishu Ryu and the Naval march -- and the one where father and big brother break the news that they botched the daughters chance to marry the person she actually wanted to marry (and who would have proposed to her, haqd his plan not been blown off by the older brother previously).

"Late Spring" just keeps getting better each time I re-watch it. (Up to viewing 7 or so now). The Criterion DVD of will probably not look a whole lot better than the print you saw (recent wear and teat on the now no longer quite new print excepted). No major restoration was carried out by Shochiku -- and so far Criterion has simply been using the materials Shochiku generated for its own DVD releases. The Shochiku DVD looks a bit better than the New Yorker video (but the New Yorker video of this film was the best of their Ozu bunch).

"Dragnet Girl" is a VERY long-seeming film -- with an immense amount of intertitled dialog. Our family's introduction was through the unsubbed Japanese video. Luckily, we chose to watch this relatively early in the day. Probably Ozu's second most visually playful film (after "Walk Cheerfully").. I especially loved the use of multiple Little Nippers at the record store -- and the increasing disorganization of our protagonists' apartment throughout the course of the film (perhaps inspired by Lloyd's "Why Worry").

On the Shochiku DVDs, "What the Lady Forgot" looks markedly better than "There Was a Father" -- and sounds even more better. ;~} I love Sumiko Kurishima in this -- and hope some of her "lost" Ozu films surface in the Abe collection.

Be forewarned -- "Toda Family" will not be one of the best preserved Ozu films you will see. As with, "There Was a Father", I think Ozu overturns the ostensible "message" of the whole foregoing film in the last couple of minutes here. Definitely more than a little passive-aggressive in his response to the demand for propaganda films -- luckily, the censors seem to have missed Ozu's tricks.

"Equinox Flower" ought to look gorgeous (the Shochiku DVD of this is almost perfect) -- I have heard that the traveling print that started out in great condition is now becoming rather battered.

The family-friendly matinee "Good Morning" sounds dreadful.

Too bad you won't get to see "That Night's Wife" or "Lady and the Beard". The first is probably the most relentlessly Hollywood looking film Ozu made -- he clearly loved Sternberg -- and the fact shows here more than in any other Ozu film. That said -- I found this (very) interesting as opposed to loveable. "Lady and the Beard", on the other hand, though "trivial", is one of the most sheerly enjoyable of Ozu's films. (I wonder to what extent Yamanaka was inspired by this when he made his (mostly) comic "Million Ryo Pot"?).

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

#91 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Feb 16, 2005 9:30 am

Nihonophile wrote:I couldn't be sure..but that's what i feared. were any put on VHS at least?
The only silent Ozu film released on legitrimate video was New Yorker's "I Was Born But". Facets also offered two very poorly done videos -- "Woman of Tokyo" (low quality -- but with English subs) and "Inn at Tokyo" (reportedly and mystifyingly with only Chinese and German intertitles -- not Japanese ones with English subs).

artfilmfan
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:11 pm

#92 Post by artfilmfan » Mon Feb 21, 2005 11:00 am

FilmFanSea wrote:Seattle Ozu Retrospective, week 2:

An Autumn Afternoon (1962) was Ozu's last film, and is very similar in plot to Late Spring (1949). ... The print was the best in the series so far (with a cool, blue-green tinge--I'm assuming--due to the Agfa film stock).

Late Spring, on the other hand, was a masterpiece. Funny and moving. This was Setsuko Hara's first film for Ozu, and she is radiant. Her Noriko is much more independent/defiant than her demure chaacter of the same name in Tokyo Story. Chishu Ryu (dependable as ever) is her widowed father who wishes to see his "ancient" 26-year-old daughter marry...
Let's hope that Criterion won't mess up with the coloring of "An Autumn Afternoon" the way it did with "Floating Weeds".

Did the subtitles of the print that you saw say that Noriko is 26 years old? My guess is that this is her age. The New Yorker VHS and the Panorama DVD, as I recall, don't mention her age. On the other hand, the UK/Tartan DVD suggests that she's 28 years old. I prefer not to know her age. It's better to simply know that she's in the "Late Spring" of her life. But ever since I watched the Tartan DVD, I've been wanting to verify this buy watching the Shochiku disc to see if indeed "28 years old" is mentioned in the Japanese subtitles (I don't read Japanese, but I hope to be able to see if "28" is mentioned. Perhaps Japanese reader/decipherer MEK can help?)
Michael Kerpan wrote:"Autumn Afternoon"... It is indeed somewhat similar to "Late Spring" -- but is, in essence, a comic re-make (and one of Ozu's funniest late films). The key difference is that the close bond between father and daughter is missing here. In fact, he literally knows almost nothing about her. Ryu is not the sort of monster here that he is in "Tokyo Twilight", but he is a bit self-absorbed and negligent aqs a parent. We are never privy to the daughter's decision to accept an arranged marriage here -- but my guess has always been that she decides it will be easier to deal with a husband than with her aggravating family...
Reading all these Ozu discussions and news from Seattle led me to revisit five of his films this past weekend (a mini retrospective): "Equinox Flower", "End of Summer", "An Autumn Afternoon", "Early Spring" and "Late Autumn".

"An Autumn Afternoon": The daughters in both "Late Spring" and "An Autumn Afternoon" are "pushed" into getting married. The daughter in "Late Spring" at the end seems to be at peace with the arranged marriage, having met her future husband (off screen) and seems to even like him, as evidenced by her conversation with Aya (the family's friend) in the scene in which she says her future husband looks more like the local electrician than Gary Cooper. The daughter in "An Autumn Afternoon", on the other hand, "accepted" the arranged marriage upon learning that the man she wanted to marry is no longer available. This is more heartbreaking than the situation that the "Late Spring" daughter is in.

Ozu loved to have the old men in his films tease the waitress, didn't he? In "Equinox Flower", "An Autumn Afternoon" and "Late Autumn", the same woman plays the waitress and she gets teased by the old men in all three films ("there must be something behind all these talks" (or something like that), says the waitress).

The scene in "Late Autumn" in which Yuriko (the friend of the daughter) confronts the three old men about "spreading rumors" and then led them to her family restaurant is REALLY, REALLY funny.

After seeing it for the third time, "End of Summer" is starting to feel a little creepy. The soundtrack, the sets (old looking houses and rooms) and a lot of other things do a convincing job in setting up the impending outcome of the film.

The social commentary (concerning salaried workers) in "Early Spring" is more strongly stated than I previously thought.

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

#93 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Feb 21, 2005 12:51 pm

Noriko's age in "Late Spring" -- I'll try to notice this, next time I watch -- could be a while though. ;~} (I seem to recollect that a specific age IS given, though).

I don't know that the daughter in "Autumn Afternoon" is "pushed" into marriage. I think she, in essence, makes a free choice -- of the lesser of two evils. She is little more than an unpaid servant (completely unappreciated) in her father's house. Her male relatives are blockheads -- she presumably decides that being a wife has got to be a step up. Her situation is indeed sad -- but unlike her counterparts in other Ozu films of this series, we have virtually no direct access to her thoughts or feelings.

Mariko Okada bearding the lions in their den in "Late Autumn" may be the single best comic scene in all the hundreds of great comic scenes in Ozu's films.

Toyoko Takahashi -- the waitress in "Equinox Flower", "Late Autumn" and "Autumn Afternoon" is an Ozu regular. She also shows up in "Late Spring", "Early Summer", "Tokyo Story" (the neighbor lady seen at the beginning and end), "Good Morning" and "Floating Weeds" (the girl barber's mother),

In a sense, "End of Summer" revisits "Tokyo Twilight" territory -- but frees the women of the family of the father's blighting hand before he totally messes up their lives. These two films show Ozu at his most openly anti-patriarchal. Some of the music here is horribly inappropriate -- I wonder what Ozu thought about the portentous over-the-top music used at places (so uncharacteristic of the music he chose to use when he was in full control -- in his Shochiku works). There is indeed something creepy about this film -- the father is a charmer -- but also a disaster in almost every respect.

"Early Spring" is almost as savage as "Tokyo Twilight" in its social criticism. Definitely a link back to the films of the mid-30s. It is hard to see how Ozu can be painted as a conservative -- if one actually pays attention to what goes on his films. ;~}

artfilmfan
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:11 pm

#94 Post by artfilmfan » Mon Feb 21, 2005 1:42 pm

My apologies to Mariko Okada and her fans out there. In my write-up commenting on the French/Arte boxset, I mentioned that I didn't recognize the actress being interviewed on the "Late Autumn" disc. After re-watching "Late Autumn" this past weekend, I realized who she was.

User avatar
Gregory
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

#95 Post by Gregory » Mon Feb 21, 2005 4:26 pm

artfilmfan wrote:The daughter in "Late Spring" at the end seems to be at peace with the arranged marriage, having met her future husband (off screen) and seems to even like him, as evidenced by her conversation with Aya (the family's friend) in the scene in which she says her future husband looks more like the local electrician than Gary Cooper. The daughter in "An Autumn Afternoon", on the other hand, "accepted" the arranged marriage upon learning that the man she wanted to marry is no longer available. This is more heartbreaking than the situation that the "Late Spring" daughter is in.
Noriko is "at peace with the arranged marriage" only in that she resigns herself to that fate, I believe, not that she is hopeful or has accepted that it is the right thing for her. Along with that of Tokyo Twilight, the ending of Late Spring is one of Ozu's bleakest, I would say (from the sound era anyway, I've only seen a few of the silents). It's not bleak because her husband is a monster; he's probably a decent person. The ending is a tragedy because it is not what she wanted, and she may never again be the free individual that she was.
Her freedom had been captured by Ozu with a freely moving camera in the scenes of her bicycle ride to the sea with her father's assistant. Her smile in those scenes looks entirely different than the smile she wears in preparing for the wedding ceremony. Her radiant eyes are now covered from our view, and after everyone leaves the camera focuses on an empty mirror. The somber, heavy feeling of the shot of her father alone at home made me wonder if he was simply contemplating the final phase of his life or if he was also filled with regret for what he had done. The closing shot of the beach, now empty, contrast these melancholy final scenes with Noriko's euphoric beach excursion earlier in the film, when before the deception of her friends and family she was freer to decide how she wanted to live.
I'd like to do a real comparison of Late Spring with An Autumn Afternoon, but I have seen the latter only once, in the midst of a whole Ozu series nearly a year ago. I don't entirely trust my memories of it. Ozu's last film has its share of poignancy and sadness, I think, but nothing like Late Spring, for me anyway.

User avatar
Steven H
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:30 pm
Location: NC

#96 Post by Steven H » Mon Feb 21, 2005 4:49 pm

I've heard that Tokyo Twilight didn't do well financially, so maybe he reacted to that and "changed" his filmmaking style. It was his last black and white film and the last five color films seem more infused with satire of the bourgeois than poignancy (relative to his early fifties films, at least). The music also seems jauntier, perhaps harkening back to his 30s comedies (which might also explain the desire to remake films from this era in Ohayu and Floating Weeds). I'm not saying later Ozu is "goofy" or anything, but the overall feel is more light hearted.

User avatar
Gregory
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

#97 Post by Gregory » Mon Feb 21, 2005 5:23 pm

I think you're right about that, but I have a hard time thinking it was because he had to change his style for financial reasons. Anyway, comparing Late Autumn with Late Spring, there are many common themes, but the later film is much more comedic; the viewer laughs at the silly behavior of the businessmen as they conspire, rather than mourning its effects. Floating Weeds is an exception to this, I believe. It has some real happiness, but not of the lighthearted variety.

The music, I would point out, can be misleading. Even Tokyo Twilight has some very jaunty music. I remember sitting there baffled as upbeat melodies repeated over and over in the background of a few of the most heart-rending scenes. I'm still not sure I know why he included that music at times. However, I think I do understand why he didn't add a score of tragic music to reinforce his actors' emotions. I think he wanted to avoid wallowing in the tragedy present in some of his scenes. He once said, "It is easy to show drama in films. The actors laugh or cry, but this is the only explanation. A director can show what he wants without an appeal to the emotions. I want to make people feel without resorting to drama."

User avatar
Steven H
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:30 pm
Location: NC

#98 Post by Steven H » Mon Feb 21, 2005 6:32 pm

When I said I thought he changed his style for financial reasons, I didn't mean that he "had" to, just that he seemed very affected by it's lack of positive response from his audience. Ozu seemed to really respect his viewer's opinion of his films, wanting to please and still remain true artistically (how he succeeded I'm not sure, heh).

That's a great quote, thanks for sharing (I would love to see a collection of Ozu quotes or interviews in a book someday, does anyone know if there's something like this untranslated in Japan?). For some reason, his use of music is one of the things I connected the strongest with from even my earliest viewings of his films. I think Bordwell said something along the lines of it helping to maintain a respectful distance from his characters (non diagetic music... or something).

I'm also glad you came back around to this as it's how I started the thread to begin with!
I wrote: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).
what's your take on this?

User avatar
Gregory
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

#99 Post by Gregory » Mon Feb 21, 2005 7:16 pm

I agree that the music can help retain a distance between the viewer and the characters, but in some cases (such as Tokyo Twilight) the moods of the music and the acting seem so different that rather than one tempering the other they just clash.

About Yoriko: I can see why the older men would consider her a shocker, because there was probably nothing of her kind in their time. But is her personality shocking relative to Late Spring? I don't know. I don't think her character was all that different than Aya in Late Spring, although Ozu I think decided to use them differently.

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

#100 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Feb 21, 2005 7:41 pm

Ozu definitely WANTED the disjunction between the music and the narration in "Tokyo Twilight". I suspect that he had more in mind here than simply giving his characters space.

He was crushed by the rejection of "Tokyo Twilight" -- but he didn't abandon his themes. His next film "Equinox Flower" is basically a comic re-make. He returned again to "Father Doesn't Know Best" -- but took out the sting not only by making this far more comic, but also by making shin Saburi (not Chishu Ryu) the target for his barbs. Most of his post-Twilight films shared its strongly anti-patriarchal focus, but made their points with humor, not melodrama.

Post Reply