Few filmmakers have the reputation of the late, great Japanese master Yasujirō Ozu. The director, who began making silent films in the 1920s, went on to develop one of the most full-bodied and idiosyncratic styles in cinematic history. Watching an Ozu film is unlike anything else (save for all those films that attempt to mimic his many should-be-patented moves). Near the end of his career, Ozu was on a roll, pumping out three of Japan’s greatest films between 1949 and 1953: “Late Spring,” “Early Summer,” and “Tokyo Story” (which frequently haunts many greatest-ever lists).
Almost right on time to mark the anniversary of his birth (and death), the folks over at Channel Criswell have put together “Yasujirō Ozu — The Depth Of Simplicity.” The 17-minute video essay takes a long, guided tour through the many stylistic tics of Ozu’s oeuvre — though to call anything about his highly refined and deeply intentional style a tic is a bit shortsighted. The video dissects Ozu’s layered compositions and his immaculately crafted mise-en-scène. It also breaks down his trademark low-camera angles, which was designed to replicate the eye-level of a person sitting on a tatami mat (and is what makes nearly every Ozu film immediately recognizable).
‘The Depth Of Simplicity’ is detailed and thoughtful stuff, fitting of any critique of such a detailed and thoughtful talent as Ozu. Check out the video below, and don’t forget to sit down to an Ozu classic this weekend (maybe “I Was Born, But…”) to celebrate the life of one of cinema’s all-time masters.