I’m pretty young (still in high school), so there are a whole lot of great directors I’ve yet to come across, and my most recent discovery is Yasujiro Ozu. I’d never heard of him until a couple days ago, but from what I’ve been reading online (mostly DVDTalk), he seems like a filmmaker I would absolutely love. I’ve since purchased Good Morning, and I would like to know what other films of his would serve as a good introduction. Thanks. :)
Well, you could always start with the classics such as Tokyo Story and Late Spring. I’m not hugely knowledgeable about Ozu though, so perhaps some of our Ozu scholars will add their thoughts.
Well, “Good Morning” is like an updated version of his silent film “I Was Born, But…”, so that’s a possible choice to begin with. I think that “The Only Son” also gives you a great introduction to Ozu’s miscrocosm of self-sacrificing parents and selfish children as does “Late Spring” to the recurring theme of family separation. The first film by Ozu that I’ve seen was “Tokyo Story”,and I wasn’t able to fully apppreciate it at the time, but meanwhile I regard it as one of his most heartbreaking films that actually lives up to its reputation. “Early Summer” seems to me like the quintessence of his work and likely his greatest masterpiece, but I think that’s one to watch after getting used to Ozu’s style and his elliptical storytelling.
This is a great set with 5 movies for about 54 bucks
Great question, I need a place to start with Ozu aswell. Great shit here.
Thanks guys! I’ll definitely be checking some of these out this summer. And I actually ordered that Ozu box for about 5 bucks from supermart during that whole fiasco, but as with everything else ordered from them that night, the order was cancelled. I’m still pretty pissed about it.
I started with Tokyo Story and now Ozu is one of my 5 favourite filmmakers, but in all honesty start anywhere. His style is very consistent and it’ll be difficult not to fall in love with his work. There is no filmmaker with better pacing and his style just puts me at a remarkable ease. Equinox Flower was another one that worked early on for me.
I’ve seen a good number of his movies but still have a lot to go. Generally, I divide his work in two: silent Ozu and color Ozu. Silent Ozu tends to pertain more towards comedy whereas color Ozu is when he really sets himself apart with his signature serenity and singular visual style (ie: tatami shots, meticulous right angle framing).
I started with the works that are perhaps his most well known, Tokyo Story and Floating Weeds. Tokyo Story, albeit much in vein with his other films, stands out to me for some reason. As much as his work is special in regards to all of cinema, that one seems that much more special. Floating Weeds, however, is more akin to the style most tend to associate with Ozu. Even then, that one stands out too.
If you want to experience a more typical Ozu styling, try any of the Late Ozu Eclipse set.
Honestly though, I would recommend An Autumn Afternoon first which is his final film. Ozu’s body of work had a way of collectively adding up to or leading towards something. An Autumn Afternoon really serves as a summation of one of his greatest themes: generational conflict aka tradition vs. modern. The only addition that would’ve made it a kind of cinematic epitaph for Ozu is if he had cast one of his regulars Setsuko Hara.
Of all his films though, I’ve come to love I Was Born, But… the most.
Only seen a few Ozu films and I know this is a later work, and so maybe not the best way to start (I think it’s nice to be able to watch a director’s work in the order they were made if possible) but I thoroughly enjoyed Tokyo Twilight as my first experience of Ozu. It’s still my favourite.
If possible I would recommand begin with some classics TOKYO STORY, BANSHUN and at the same time try some older from the 30s THE ONLY SON or his first shomingeki film CHORUS OF TOKYO. He made in both periods great films.
Another option would be to start with his last film AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON which is as well an excellent introcuction into his work. For my side his finest and probably one of the finest films at all is EARLY UMMER, 1951.
And it is also meaningful to try his experiments with american genre cinema like melos, comedies or gangster films. That gives you an idea in what incredible speed he transformed the obviously american influences into his own uniquie style.
“his finest and probably one of the finest films at all is EARLY [S]UMMER, 1951”
Personally, you can start anywhere with an Ozu film. But if you want to really go in order, then definitely purchase the Silent Ozu Eclipse Series set from Criterion. With the upcoming Criterion 50% off sale from B&N coming soon, you can get a lot of the titles fairly cheap including the two Eclipse series sets.
I would say “I Was Born But…” would be the best introduction you could have to Ozu. It’s both light and a good indicator of the direction he would head in as a filmmaker (keep an eye open for one of his favorite themes – transition / tradition.)
I agree with Roger Hayn.
“Tokyo Story”s sucn a Canon Classic it’s become difficult to talk about anymore. Yes it’s teriffic, but it’s not his best film or his most typical.
Ozu is wildly mischaracterized as having one style (low level plan americain) and one subject ( the Japanese family) There’a a LOT of camera movement in his silent period. And while The Family became the general subject of his late works that’s not all he was interested in dealing with. Ozu was a supremely socially-conscious filmmaker. He is the discoverer — and great poet of — the Japanese white-collar middle-class. He is the world’s greatest director of children.
And he could be quite politically miltant at times, particularly in “A Hen in the Wind” and (my favorite Ozu) “Record of a Tenement Gentleman.”
This is manifestly untrue. His style evolved over the eyars and his subject matter along with it.
It is true that the style changed over the years.
So I was a bit vague with “his own unique style”.
I was thinking about this today… strange to find this topic in the forum. I would actually recommend starting with the film that I first saw by Ozu: “Floating Weeds” (1959). I think it’s a great example of how beautiful Ozu’s films can be… specifically regarding colour and mise-en-scene. I didn’t love it right away, but I think it’s because it was a new kind of experience for me (Ozu is stylistically set apart from other directors in my opinion… even though I’d agree that his style evolved over the years as suggested above). Now, I look back and i’m glad I started with that film.
refer to this thread
there’s really no bad place to start with Ozu, just don’t bother to read any of the nonsense that Paul Schrader and Donald Richie spews about him. If you just have access to the region 1 dvds, I’d go for Early Summer and the Eclipse silent set. If you have access to more of his films(wink wink), and want to get a variety of his different works, try What Did the Lady Forget (screwball comedy), Where Now Are the Dreams of Youth (college comedy/melodrama, similar socially-critical themes as I Was Born But), The Only Son (proto-Tokyo Story), That Night’s Wife (his take on noir/gangster films), Late Spring (model for most the late films), Early Spring (about the life of average salary men), An Inn in Tokyo (depression era drama), Record of a Tenement Gentlemen (post WWII drama).
I’d agree that you could start anywhere. But once you discover that you do like Ozu, there is an argument to be made to watch his work more or less chronologically. Not only will you see the development of his style, but you will get something of a picture of the changes in Japanese culture as the films move from before the war to war widows and worries about poverty to the increasing affluent middle class.
Perhaps what we need is a box set featuring, say, Days of Youth, Woman of Tokyo and Dragent Girl — just three of Ozu’s numerous thematically and stylistically diverse early films. I think it’s about time that this myth about Ozu always making the same or similar types of films about the same kinds of people is proven untrue.
Lol @columbiatch, I also found Schrader on Ozu to be unbearable.
Late Spring is on a revival tour, if you can catch it … start there … the 35mm print is gorgeous
I love Ozu, to get started I’d sugest Tokyo Story, Late Spring, Floating Weeds or Good Morning.
But don’t go for “he seems like a filmmaker I would absolutely love”. That’s tricky! And I’ve felt for it many times…
I’d sugest you to watch it 1st, then buy if you like.
My first Ozu films were Late Spring, Tokyo Story and An Autumn Afternoon. Love them.
I would say start with Late Spring (1949); then you have the choice of following it with other parts of the so-called “Noriko trilogy”, Early Summer (1951)and Tokyo Story (1953), or jumping to his much-loved Tokyo Story and then an early film like I Was Born But (1932) and a late colour one like The End of Summer (1961). For a younger person Tokyo Twilight (1957) may have additional appeal, and i also rate The Only Son (1936)
Any Ozu you can get your hands on
Ozu is the perfect director for a summer holidays, their films have a lot of sun light and heat. Everyone starts with TOKYO STORY, that film is really an exception and rupture in the history of cinema. Then You watch all of their other films like LATE SPRING, EARLY SUMMER, THE ONLY SON, THERE WAS A FATHER, I WAS BORN BUT …, THE RECORD OF TENEMENT GENTLEMAN, you find true beauties and really radical cinema, then (like me) you return to TOKYO STORY. THE ONLY SON is the other underrated and rarely seen beauty in Ozu filmography, it is like an “ambient” film. (Like the ambient electronic music, contemplation of Nature and life. Boards of Canada anyone?)
It was the first Ozu I watched.
I’d give the highest recommendation to I Was Born, But…
And guess what? It’s playing in the first round of the Directors’ World Cup. Fancy that.
To be honest though, Kenji and Genaro both make some excellent suggestions, and Late Spring is my personal favourite, but I don’t think it’s massively important where you begin. My introduction to Ozu was a chance screening of The Record of a Tenement Gentleman and I haven’t looked back since.
Wherever you decide to start, there are going to be some amazing discoveries.
Thanks a whole bunch you guys! Tokyo story is clearly the most mentioned movie, but I get the feeling that no matter where I start I’m gonna find something good. Good Morning came in the mail yesterday, so I’m gonna watch that as soon as possible.
@Yamamoto: I’m a buy before I try kinda guy, cause aside from my library (which has a good amount of Criterion actually) there are no rental places anywhere nearby, and I don’t download. So its really hard for me to watch a movie without just buying it, and I’m rarely disappointed anyways. If I think I’m gonna like it, odds are that I will.