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Yasujirô Ozu Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Trade Mark (12) | Trivia (22) | Personal Quotes (6)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 12 December 1903Tokyo, Japan
Date of Death 12 December 1963Tokyo, Japan  (cancer)
Height 5' 6½" (1.69 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Tokyo-born Yasujiro Ozu was a movie buff from childhood, often playing hooky from school in order to see Hollywood movies in his local theatre. In 1923 he landed a job as a camera assistant at Shochiku Studios in Tokyo. Three years later, he was made an assistant director and directed his first film the next year, Zange no yaiba (1927). Ozu made thirty-five silent films, and a trilogy of youth comedies with serious overtones he turned out in the late 1920s and early 1930s placed him in the front ranks of Japanese directors. He made his first sound film in 1936, Hitori musuko (1936), but was drafted into the Japanese Army the next year, being posted to China for two years and then to Singapore when World War II started. Shortly before the war ended he was captured by British forces and spent six months in a P.O.W. facility. At war's end he went back to Shochiku, and his experiences during the war resulted in his making more serious, thoughtful films at a much slower pace than he had previously. His most famous film, Tokyo Story (1953), is generally considered by critics and film buffs alike to be his "masterpiece" and is regarded by many as not only one of Ozu's best films but one of the best films ever made. He also turned out such classics of Japanese film as Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1952), Floating Weeds (1959) and An Autumn Afternoon (1962).

Ozu, who never married and lived with his mother all his life, died of cancer in 1963, two years after she passed.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: frankfob2@yahoo.com

Trade Mark (12)

Rigorous use of static camera positioned only a few feet from floor
Recurring theme of changes in post-war Japanese family and society (Tokyo Story (1953), Floating Weeds (1959)).
The presence of the color red in his color films
Characters looking directly into the camera
Shots that violate the 180 degree rule (The rule states that cameras filming a conversation must stay on one side of an imaginary line drawn between two people talking or continuity will be broken).
Shots begin before anyone occupies them
Usually uses a frame within the film frame
Family, marriage, parents, leaving the family and traveling are prominent themes in his films.
Focus on the relationships between the generations
Tableaux of outdoor landscapes (often showing railway lines or stations)
Using ellipsis as narrative device
Drying laundry hanging outside

Trivia (22)

Retrospective at the 53rd Berlin International Film Festival. [2003]
Retrospective in 2003 at the 27th São Paulo International Film Festival
Biography in John Wakeman, editor, "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945," pp. 850-858. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
Thirty-four-film Retrospective during 2005 at Northwest Film Forum in Seattle.
Thought of as the world's greatest director by many film critics and theorists alike.
It's often thought that he placed the camera at the eye level of a person kneeling on a Tatami mat. Actually, it's often lower than that, only one or two feet off the ground.
His grave bears no name, just the character 'mu' ("nothingness").
Remained single and childless all of his life and lived alone with his mother, who died less than two years before his own death.
Red was his favorite color.
"Floating Weeds" cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa said that Ozu had a certain style of directing. The camera was always placed low, close to the floor. He never used cranes, a moving camera, bird's eye shots. Once or twice he tried them early in his career, but he abandoned them. When he edited, he never used overlaps, wipes, fade-ins. He was determined to create a sense of ordinary, everyday life without tricks or mannerisms. To Ozu the camera was never more than an uninvolved observer. It was never part of the action. It never commented on the action. It was through the repetition of short cuts moving back and forth from one character to another that Ozu created a sense of real life.
When he saw the film Civilization (1916) in 1917, he decided that he wanted to be a film director.
Was chosen the tenth greatest director of all time by the BFI's Sight & Sound poll of Critics' top ten directors.
Invented the "tatami shot", in which the camera is placed at a low height, supposedly at the eye level of a person kneeling on a tatami mat.
Died on his birthday.
In the 2012 Sight&Sound poll of film directors' choices of "greatest film of all time", his film Tôkyô monogatari (1953) has topped the list.
Wim Wenders shot a documentary film called Tokyo-Ga to explore the world of Ozu.
The centenary of his birth was commemorated by Shochiku Film Company by producing the film Café Lumière. [2003]
Those who admire his work include Andrei Tarkovsky, Abbas Kiarostami, Martin Scorsese, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Aki Kaurismäki, Claire Denis, Jim Jarmusch, and Wim Wenders.
Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismäki showed his admiration for him by saying, "Ozu-san, I'm Aki Kaurismäki from Finland, I've made eleven lousy films, and it's all your fault".
Was considered by Japan's film authorities to be "too Japanese" to be understood by Western audiences.
According to renowned film critic Roger Ebert, "to love movies without loving Ozu is an impossibility".
Invented the 'pillow shot' which is basically a manner of cutting from a character's sufferings to an unrelated still life.

Personal Quotes (6)

I have formulated my own directing style in my head, proceeding without any unnecessary imitation of others.
Watching Fantasia (1940) I understood we could never win the war. "These people seem to like complications", I thought to myself.
About this time [late 1950s], CinemaScope was getting popular. I wanted to have nothing to do with it, and consequently I shot more close-ups and used shorter shots.
I tried to represent the collapse of the Japanese family system through showing children growing up.
I consciously did away with fade-ins and replaced them with the cut. Henceforth, I never used such editing techniques again. In fact, neither dissolve, fade-in nor fade-out can be regarded as 'the grammar of film,' they are no more than characteristics of the camera.
Although I may seem the same to other people, to me each thing I produce is a new expression and I always make each work from a new interest. It's like a painter who always paints same rose.

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