by Landon Palmer.
In the 1993 documentary short Talking with Ozu, filmmakers from around the world including Wim Wenders, Claire Denis, and Paul Schrader attest to Yasujiro Ozu’s subtle yet resonant influence on their own filmmaking and their understanding of cinema as an art form. But rather than discuss how Ozu’s intricate and subtle shot compositions or elliptical depiction of consequential narrative events had a direct contribution on their own techniques, they each offer strictly personal tales, typically memories of the first time they saw one of Ozu’s films.Yasujiro Ozu
Even though there is a lot of mastery in Ozu’s work to dissect and drool over, the real miracle of Ozu’s filmmaking is the personal connection that develops between the audience and the work. One does not have to be a filmmaker to understand how profoundly one can become tethered to deeply humanist character studies like Tokyo Story or Late Spring. There is something profoundly revelatory about Ozu’s work, something that speaks to the emotional and social undertaking of simply being a person in a world with other people. This is why his films have traveled with such potency across nations and history. Ozu’s influence can’t be measured in terms of references or innovations. His movies resonate in ways that a viewer might not initially realize. That’s incalculable.
That, of course, doesn’t mean his specific techniques and contributions can’t be explored concretely. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from perhaps the one director whose incredible contributions to cinema resists the format of a list.
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