Pin It
Favorite

DVD Review 

by Marty Demarest


When asked about great Japanese directors, I'm supposed to mention giants like Kurosawa, who gave us The Seven Samurai and Ran. Or else I'm expected to mention Miyazaki, the creator of the marvelous Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro (perhaps my favorite film). But really, when I think of Japanese cinema, I recall the work of Yasujiro Ozu.


Ozu directed dozens of films, from the late 1920s to the '50s. Since film itself was still emerging as an art form, he had an easier time developing his personal style than he might have if he had become a filmmaker later in the century. Tokyo Story, released in America in the '60s, is Ozu's masterpiece, and it perfectly illustrates the features that make him greater than almost any other director.


Tokyo Story takes as its topic the middle-class endeavors of modern Japan, and casts a respectful gaze on them, making them resemble historic scroll paintings and Japanese prints. In fact, it was only after noticing how Ozu focused on everyday details that I realized that much historic Japanese art depicts ordinary activities or people. In Tokyo Story, an elderly couple travels to Tokyo to visit their children; they're dismissed and ignored as burdens and throwbacks. It's not that the children are cruel; they're just afraid to confront the terrifying truths of love and mortality that their parents represent.


So much of Japan's social tension is caught by Ozu, who frames his potent scenes in a still, un-moving frame. The camera remains at a fixed position, and the actors and actresses, if they move much at all, tend to make their entrances and exits on Ozu's harmonious and beautiful compositions. The effect very quickly becomes like watching a photograph or painting come to life. It's both disconcerting and comforting, which is even more remarkable, considering that Ozu achieves the effect through restraint.


Criterion, the only DVD company with impeccable taste, has released a much-needed edition of this classic film. More will follow - this is Ozu's centennial. And undoubtedly, a movie this refined and perfect will last hundreds of years more. If you love film at all, seek out this set, along with other pieces by Ozu. More than any other director, he has made film art.





Publication date: 12/11/03

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • First Day of School
  • First Day of School

    Spokane International Academy marks the city's first real experiment with charter schools
    • Sep 2, 2015
  • Getting Schooled
  • Getting Schooled

    Spokane teachers contemplate strike; plus, Mayor Condon unveils his budget
    • Sep 2, 2015
  • On Notice
  • On Notice

    A proposed ordinance would give neighbors a heads-up about developments, but the Spokane Home Builders Association says it'll drive away builders
    • Sep 2, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Mobius Children's Museum's 10th Birthday

Mobius Children's Museum's 10th Birthday @ Mobius Children's Museum

Sat., Sept. 5, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Marty Demarest

  • The Cowboy's Cowboy
  • The Cowboy's Cowboy

    A Canadian sings about the life —  not just the lifestyle — of the new West
    • May 15, 2013
  • Completing the Trilogy
  • Completing the Trilogy

    Mass Effect has finally arrived
    • May 23, 2012
  • Minecraft
  • Minecraft

    Adventure and survival too often give way to mindless crafts in this building-block simulator.
    • Feb 8, 2012
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Manufacturing Fear

    Spokane's Republican sheriff says members of his own party are dangerously dividing people
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • 'Flip of a Coin'

    A Spokane Valley deputy trained to spot stoned and drunk drivers is wrong nearly as often as he is right, blood tests from drivers show
    • Aug 19, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


marijuana


Comment


Publisher's Note


BUSINESS


© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation