::kogonada is a filmmaker born in Seoul, Korea. He writes interesting articles for Sight & Sound, and keeps bringing out these well observed video-essays for Criterion Collection. His latest video essay examines visually similar shots in the work of Yasujirō Ozu as we look at three frames, side by side edited from 25-30 of Ozu’s films.
Way of Ozu shows the repetitive shots from his different films as we watch domestic duties, trains, people eating, special events photographed, ladies crying, and men sitting in a space alone. By the end of the essay we see just how many of Ozu’s shots repeat themselves from film to film.
It’s a small look into Ozu’s code or formula throughout the history of his work.
::kogonada replies to a comment on his vimeo link with a telling Ozu quote:
“I have always said that I only make tofu because I am a tofu maker. One person cannot make so many different kinds of films. It is possible to eat many different types from around the world at a restaurant in a Japanese department store, but as a result of this overly abundant selection the quality of the food and its taste suffers. Filmmaking is the same way. Even if my films appear to all be the same, I am always trying to express something new, and I have a new interest in each film. I am like a painter who keeps painting the same rose over and over again.”
Although the images are so similar, watching Ozu films never feel the same to me. There is definitely a trademark style, but the films to me are never boring. It’s amazing we might never seem to notice to just what extent the repetitive nature lives in Ozu’s work, until someone who loves his work as much as ::kogonada breaks it down for us like this.