OZU 120, a three-week, complete retrospective of the Japanese director and screenwriter’s extant work, commemorating both the 120th anniversary of his birth and 60th anniversary of his death, will run at Film Forum from Friday, June 9 through Thursday, June 29.
The retrospective includes over 30 films, most in 35mm, spanning four decades, from his 15 surviving silent films (including I WAS BORN, BUT…, PASSING FANCY, DRAGNET GIRL, and more – all to be screened with live piano accompaniment by Steve Sterner); his first talkie, THE ONLY SON, made in 1935; feature films made in wartime Japan, the commercially successful BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF THE TODA FAMILY and THERE WAS A FATHER; and the post-war masterworks that cemented his signature style, TOKYO STORY, LATE SPRING, and THE FLAVOR OF GREEN TEA OVER RICE, plus short films KAGAMIJISHI (in 16mm), A STRAIGHTFORWARD BOY, and the only surviving 10 minutes of I GRADUATED BUT…
Though the most honored director in his own country, Yasujirō Ozu (1903-1963) achieved acclaim in the West only after his death on his 60th birthday. For most of his career, this greatest of world filmmakers worked in the uniquely Japanese shomin-geki genre: uncomplicated stories about ordinary people. His favorite themes included families, fathers, and the remembered joys of childhood and college life – little of which he experienced himself. He was separated from his own father at a very young age, and never married or went to college. Ozu’s techniques are among the most eccentric and austere in cinema history: little-to-no camera movement, straight cutting from scene to scene, the unvarying low camera angle (aka “the tatami shot,” from the eye level of someone sitting on a tatami mat), unpeopled “still life” shots bridging sequences – a deceptively simple style, yet one that no other director has been able to replicate.
The Harvard Film Archive will present a concurrent retrospective entitled The Complete Yasujiro Ozu, from June 9 through August 13, with support from the Japan Foundation.
“If there were something like a sacred treasure of the cinema, that would have to be the work of Ozu.” – Wim Wenders
“Not only a great director but a great teacher, and after you know his films, a friend. With no other director do I feel affection for every single shot… Ozu uses “pillow shots” like the pillow words in Japanese poetry, separating his scenes with brief, evocative images from everyday life.” – Roger Ebert
For tickets and more information visit the Film Forum.