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Ozu Yasujiro ‘Views from One Foot above the Floor’

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Presentation on theme: "Ozu Yasujiro ‘Views from One Foot above the Floor’"— Presentation transcript:

1 Ozu Yasujiro ‘Views from One Foot above the Floor’

2 Ozu as auteur Complete grip on film-making in every stage Ozu wrote all his late scripts with Noda Kôgo and gave meticulous and final instructions on production design and photography.

3 Ozu as auteur Mr. Ozu looked happiest when he was engaged in writing a scenario with Mr. Kogo Noda, at the latter's cottage on the tableland of Nagano Prefecture. By the time he finished writing a script, after about four months' effort, he had already made up every image in every shot, so that he never changed the scenario after we went on the set. The words were so polished up that he would not allow us even a single mistake.

4 Ozu as auteur Ozu has most of things in his head: set design, location, composition, lighting, camera position, camera movement, acting, length of shots, the ways in which film is cut Once his style is established, he never changed it. Stylization

5 Ozu as auteur Ozu-gumi (the Ozu crew) The same crew over many films with Ozu as their absolute head - made possible in Japan’s studio system

6 Ozu as auteur Banshun (1949) Producer: Yamamoto Takeshi Script: Ozu Yasujirô and Noda Kôgo Camera: Atsuta Yûharu Editor: Hamamura Yoshiyasu Music: Itô Senji Art: Hamada Tatsuo Tokyo Monogatari (1953) Producer: Yamamoto Takeshi Script: Ozu Yasujirô and Noda Kôgo Camera: Atsuta Yûharu Editor: Hamamura Yoshiyasu Music: Saitô Kôjun Art : Hamada Tatsuo

7 Ozu as auteur Photographer: Atsuta Yûharu (or Yûshun) Atsuta was an assistant cameraman for Ozu for 6 years and his first photographer for 25 years from 1937 (What did the Lady Forget?) to 1962. After Ozu’s death he did not work for any other director.

8 Ozu as auteur Ozu was the only director for whom Atsuta operated his camera. Atsuta had learned what Ozu wanted before he became the first cameraman and he did not need any instruction. Complete grasp of Ozu’s intention.

9 Ozu as auteur Through years‘ experience as an assistant … I’ve learned what Ozu wanted. I didn‘t bother to ask him about the camera position; Occasionally he said, “I don’t like to look down on people. A down shot makes me feel as though I‘m looking down. So I like the camera on the horizontal.” -- Yûharu Atsuta

10 Ozu as auteur Kôgo Noda He co-wrote with Ozu 13 scripts of the latter’s 15 post-war films. For Ozu the script is to a film director as the blueprint is to an architect. Avoidance of ‘dramatic’ plot Stories of the ordinary Birth, growth, marriage, aging and death - ‘the wheel of life’

11 Ozu as auteur Scripts written jointly by Ozu and Noda Few instructions of action appeared on the scripts and no indications of shot sizes, angles, points of view, camera movements, lightings etc. Once a scenario is completed, not a single word is added or taken away (almost!)

12 Ozu as auteur Ozu kept using the same actors: Ryû Chishû, Hara Setsuko, Sugimura Haruko, Tanaka Kinuyo, Yamamura Sô, Nakamura Nobuo, Tôno Eijirô Ozu completely dictates the ways in which actors deliver dialogues and act, allowing them no freedom and improvisation.

13 Ozu as auteur Rigid, artificial action - lack of spontaneity (criticism) However, Ozu won complete trust from actors Stylized ‘beauty’ - sense of order

14 Ozu’s Visual Style (Mise-en-scène) Style derives from the consistent use of certain techniques. Mise-en-scène - Motionless camera - Low-level camera placement (one foot above the floor) - One lens (with focal length of 50mm)


16 Ozu’s Visual Style (Mise-en-scène) The camera placed about one foot from the floor - low level shot without moving camera (no pans or travelling) Slight low-angle shots

17 Ozu’s Visual Style (Mise-en-scène) - Horizontal composition c.f. Mizoguchi’s diagonal composition

18 Ozu’s Visual Style (Mise-en-scène) Composition - horizontal and (slight) low angle while Mizoguchi’s favourite composition is diagonal and high-angle

19 Ozu’s Visual Style (Mise-en-scène) Perspectival placement of a group of people Careful, geometrical arrangement of screen

20 Ozu’s Visual Style (Mise-en-scène)

21 - Frontal composition: actors (almost) directly looking at and talking to camera Unconventional and against classic filmmaking rules

22 Ozu’s Visual Style (Mise-en-scène) More frontal compositions

23 Ozu’s Visual Style (Mise-en-scène) Frontal compositions Faces turned to the camera

24 Ozu’s Visual Style (Mise-en-scène) Uniform set design Middle-class Japanese household Shôji (sliding paper door) wide open and shallow perspective with background view is partly interrupted by a wall.

25 Ozu’s Visual Style (Mise-en-scène) More examples of Ozu’s favourite interior composition Empty tatami in foreground, figures in the middle ground and small garden and wall at background

26 Ozu’s Visual Style (Mise-en-scène) Japanese architecture and horizontal composition The camera’s straight-on, horizontal angle and low position creates horizontal composition. Lack of depth - shallow composition

27 Ozu’s Colour Films The same mise-en-scéne as in the black-and- white films Repeated uses of the same colour - red

28 Ozu’s Colour Films

29 Ozu’s Visual Style (Montage) Montage (Editing) - Rhythmic editing (nearly fixed lengths of shots according to sizes) ‘Ozu’s low camera position is not for long takes. It makes a rhythm from a combination of medium close-up, medium long shot and reverse shot. Consequently, how long one shot lasts becomes very important.‘ Yûharu Atsuta - Cuts - no dissolve, fade or wipe)

30 Fade (in)

31 Wipe

32 Ozu’s Visual Style (Montage) Almost perfect visual match in shot-and-reverse- shots Drinking sake from the cup held in the right hand; matching waistcoats and ties; the same hair-style; the pillar at their back on the screen right.

33 Ozu’s Visual Style (Montage) Even the position of the beer bottle is the same, on the right of each character and the label of the beer is facing to the camera in either shot.

34 Ozu’s Visual Style (Montage) ELLIPSIS - narrative device used in literature to leave out a portion of the story Ozu frequently uses this device. The viewer learns of important narrative events only after they have occurred. Tokyo Monogatari: The viewer does not see the grandmother falls ill - the viewer knows it only when her son and daughter receive a telegram; her death taking place between scenes: in one scene, they are at her bedside and in the next they are mourning her death

35 Ozu’s Visual Style (Montage) - ‘Pillow shots’ or ‘still life shots’ which are not directly related with narratives and function as transitional insertions.

36 Ozu’s Visual Style (Montage) Noriko gets a phone call at work telling that her mother-in-law is ill; medium shot of her at desk with sound of typewriters

37 Ozu’s Visual Style (Montage) Cut to a low-angle shot of a building under construction with riveting machine sounds and music

38 Ozu’s Visual Style (Montage) Cut to another shot of the construction site with the same sounds

39 Ozu’s Visual Style (Montage) Then a cut to Koichi’s clinic with his sister, Shige present. The new scene begins.

40 Ozu’s Visual Style (Montage) Meanings of pillow shot contemplative and aesthetic Related with story-telling mechanism: frequent uses of ellipsis (a segment of a narrative is deliberately omitted) Pillow shot indicates that an ellipsis occurs.

41 Ozu’s Film Style Ignoring the standard continuity editing - 180 degree rule - Omission of the establishing shot - using space of 360 degrees



44 Ozu’s Montage: the 180 degree rule Ozu comfortably ignores the 180 degree rule: a man drinking tea facing towards the frame right

45 Ozu’s Montage: the 180 degree rule In the next shot, the man facing the frame left. A grave sin in the classical montage style

46 Meanings of Ozu’s visual style Restrained and minimalist cinematic style Ozu’s film style is often compared to Zen - ‘Ozu’s simplicity of style derives from the fact that his art is essentially religious in nature. It is an art predicated on the Zen Buddhism…’ David A. Cook - Mystery of the everyday ‘… it is only through the mundane and the common that the transcendent can be expressed.’ Donald Ritchie

47 Meanings of Ozu’s visual style - Contemplative and meditative quality; the expression of quietness, motionless, emptiness and nothingness

48 Meanings of Ozu’s visual style - Self-abandonment yielding to fate and destiny without conscious struggle - The tombstone of Ozu’s grave - ‘ 無 ’ Nothing

49 Meanings of Ozu’s visual style How much are Ozu’s images religious expression? How closely are Ozu’s films related with Zen Buddhism and its spirit?

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