The popularity of BAMPFA’s recent matinee lecture series In Focus: Japanese Film Classics led us to realize that it was time for a series devoted to Yasujiro Ozu. This particular selection focuses on Ozu’s postwar reemergence with the so-called “Noriko trilogy,” starring the incomparable Setsuko Hara in three distinct, unrelated roles as contemporary women all named Noriko, in Late Spring, Early Summer, and Ozu’s great masterpiece Tokyo Story. Hara also appears in this series in Late Autumn.
Ozu’s thoughtful examinations of middle-class family life make the ordinary extraordinary, in large measure because of the poetic sensibility of his cinema and the deep humanity of his characters. It was not uncommon for Ozu to use ellipses; that is, electing not to show major events in the story, presenting instead quieter, seemingly insignificant moments in his characters’ lives. In his later period films, Ozu placed the camera low, in a fixed position, no longer involving any camera movement. He opted for the square-format Academy aspect ratio, never adopting ’Scope format, even though it was all the rage in the fifties.
Fans of Ozu will also enjoy a companion film, the essayistic Tokyo-Ga (screening in Cinema Mon Amour), in which Wim Wenders travels to Japan to explore the world of Ozu.
Susan Oxtoby, Senior Film Curator