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To condense time –

May 11, 2022

elliptical storytelling involves artfully obtuse language to dance around certain subjects.

To condense time, or as a stylistic method to allow the reader to fill in the missing portions of the narrative with their imagination
Yasujirō OzuBorn: 12 December 1903, Fukagawa district
Died: 12 December 1963, Tokyo, Japan.  – a minimalist master

The great elliptical storyteller, Yasujirō Ozu, was a Japanese film director and screenwriter. He began his career during the era of silent films, and his last films were made in colour in the early 1960s.

Yasujiro Ozu, like Jane Austen, he tells the same satisfying story again and again -John Patterson

Ozu is anything but dry. His nearest (distant) familiar equivalent is Jane Austen. Both deal with families, fathers and finances, daughters marriageable or not, and life’s disappointments. Both essentially tell the same perfectly satisfying story again and again, each with an abiding, accepting wisdom about human relationships.

Down in the valley it is already spring

Clouds of cherry blossoms;

But here, the sluggish eye, the taste of mackerel—

The blossoms are melancholy

And the flavor of sake becomes bitter

These words wrote Ozu Yasujirō in 1962, during the making of what would be his last film, after the death of his mother Asae. Too much bitterness for the loss of the most important person in his life, with whom he had shared a special, unique and complicit relationship.

An Autumn Afternoon (1962), is one of the most sublime swansongs in the history of cinema, and confirms my belief that the best way to approach Ozu is the same way the Japanese read poetry: start at the end and work backwards. That’s because Ozu’s career combines his growing formal and artistic confidence with an opposing urge to simplify, to strip everything down to an austerely gorgeous minimum, and deny himself the technical comforts of the film stylist. – John Patterson

This pocket-sized volume focusing exclusively on Ozu Yasujiro’s 1949 masterpiece Late Spring (Banshun) is rather quaintly subtitled ‘It’s the quiet ones you have to watch’, but the truth is, this is a loud – almost overconfident – book, and is unashamed about it. – Laurence Greene

Noriko Smiling by Adam Mars-Jones –

Adam Mars-Jones’s essay on Japanese film director Yasujiro Ozu goes a long way to demystifying a master – Leo Robson

Setsuko Hara (born on June 17 1920) did not have an especially long acting career. Even though she lived to the age of 95, she retired from the screen in 1962, and became something of a recluse, even as the world became more and more aware of her special gifts during the decades that followed.

Late Spring, the film’s essential plot is simplistic in the extreme – almost minimalist, one could say. We follow Noriko (played so memorably by the iconic Hara Setsuko), at the age of twenty-seven, still living with her widowed father. She faces constant pressure from those around her to marry, but all she wants from life is to continue her duties as a devotional daughter – and thus the film’s central dramatic tension is set. Will she, or won’t she, end up getting hitched?

Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara in a scene from Late Spring, directed by Yasujirō Ozu

Hara Setsuko, was called the “Eternal Virgin” by many – which did not exactly thrill her. Her retirement immediately following Ozu’s death, deprived the world of her artistry, but she seemed perfectly happy to go on living without the cinema. Her last 50 years were spent in seclusion in Kamakura, a small city outside Tokyo.

Chishu Ryu, who appears in minor roles in most of Ozu’s earlier films, took his place in the later films as the director’s persona, with Setsuko Hara perhaps as the feminine counterpart.

The great Elliptical Storyteller‘ s style may appear simple, but is in fact so fine-tuned, so carefully calibrated, that he has the power to overwhelm the viewer, to launch a thousand interpretations with a single cut.

Ozu disregarded how the rest of the world shot films and created his own cinematic language. He broke every rule there was and did it the most subtle way possible. Ozu’s films exercised the most discreet rebellion against cinematic norm.

Framing and composition is everything for Ozu. His frames are like still life paintings. Many times, after the actors have exited the frame, the camera lingers on the empty frame, showing the room or the office or a narrow lane surrounded by shops with glittering neon signs.

The passing of trains, for example, is a reoccurring image in all of Ozu’s films and it holds much importance in his work. It marks the beginning or end of a life journey. The train is also a link between the younger and older generations for it connects the modern city of Tokyo with the old villages in Japan. Ozu was a master of subtlety and he often examined lives in transition. Maybe that’s why I always found myself resorting to his work when things got tough. – Wael Khairy 

Director: Martin Scorsese

Ozu himself has been an influence on such diverse Western directors as Jim Jarmusch, Paul Schrader, and Martin Scorsese. He inspired a documentary by Wim Wenders and was frequently the subject of books by Donald Richie, a scholar of Japanese cinema.

“Tokyo Story” (1953) 

Ozu is not only a great director but a great teacher, and after you know his films, a friend.- Robert Ebert

Early Summer 麥秋 (1951) Yasujiro Ozu

He likes trains, clouds, smoke, clothes hanging on a line, empty streets, small architectural details, banners blowing in the wind (he painted most of the banners in his movies himself).

The Elliptical Storyteller is Japanese Poetry in Film-making, separating his scenes with brief, evocative images from everyday life.

15 Comments
  1. how interesting! thanks for sharing, Abi 🙂

  2. FatherV permalink

    elliptical storytelling involves artfully obtuse language to dance around certain subjects.
    I think FatherV and Betsy use very artful and obtuse language.
    😉🍑🐍🍆🌹🌸⭕️💋🍯💦💦

    • 😂,
      Artfully oblique
      Thank you for coming to read 📚 😇👌☕🍰FatherV

  3. I think he was an excellent film director and intelligent person.Thanks for sharing 😊

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