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Video essay: Ozu's Vase

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    Vili Maunula

    Here’s another video essay that I thought worth sharing, this one about Ozu’s vase. Because there’s never enough discussion about that vase! 🙂

    (YouTube link)

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    Longstone

    Thanks for posting that Vili, it’s an interesting little essay. Clearly it is a very aesthetically pleasing static shot and I’ve always thought many shots in Ozu’s films would make great photographs if freeze framed, he seems to have paid a lot of attention to his set dressing etc.
    Normally he seems to use static images like this to indicate a change of location, such as a stack of chimneys to indicate a move to the city or a line of washing to relocate to a residential area. In this instance I assumed he was sort of doing the opposite, using a beautiful static image to show the passing of time in the same place , i.e. the inn bedroom in Kyoto, thus Noriko was thinking to herself , maybe emotionally about her life for an indeterminate length of time, longer than leaving the scene lingering on her face would allow. However watching the essay , if the scene is playing out in real time so the cut to the vase doesn’t serve the purpose to extend the time more than we actually see then the interruption must presumably have another reason.

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    Ugetsu

    I can never get enough of that vase! For me, Late Spring is his absolute masterpiece, its a film that has moved me in ways that I simply can’t explain.

    And thanks for the link in the other thread about Ran, thats a lovely short clip – one of the joys of youtube is seeing the inventiveness and skill of so many scholars out there, including the amateurs. I really wish I could get to see Ran on the big screen fully restored one day.

    Incidentally, on the subject of Ozu, I see the maker of the Ran clip also did one on Ozu and Tokyo Story. I visited the town of Onamichi last year, where Tokyo Story was mostly filmed (I hadn’t known about the connection until I arrived). I must admit to having become a little obsessed since then with finding Ozu’s locations – his shots are so precise and carefully chosen. Although the town has been completely redeveloped since then, the location for many of those shots are very easy to find as it has such a distinct geography. I wish I’d downloaded the film before visiting, as I had to spend several hours trying to find them by from memory. There is a lovely little museum of cinema in the town, but its not particularly helpful in identifying the locations (they did have a leaflet with map, but it was quite inaccurate so far as I could tell). As so often, Japanese tourism seems to miss the boat with many of its treasures, there would surely be a demand for a Tokyo Story trail through the town. But I’d love to return to explore it in more detail and maybe find some of those locations that are less well known.

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    Ugetsu

    Not quite related to the vase, but I found this essay by Moeko Fujii on Setsuko Hara really interesting, especially on how Kurosawa and Ozu had contrasting uses for her unique gifts.

    Solace found in solitude, bookishness—these are familiar, lovable traits, but doesn’t quite explain Setsuko on screen. For she plays defiant, beautiful daughters of professors—most notably in Kurosawa’s No Regrets for Our Youth, and in Ozu’s Late Spring—who, as the girl-child of studious men, is asked to use spontaneity and surprise as her primary weapons. She holds court against the pale, linear comforts of sentences. Her father’s boy acolytes look to her for a joy and a dexterity that they think can’t be found in books, and therefore she wields her power most effectively in silence. She’s most expressive when she’s not moving her mouth, her face, or her body at all. Her eyes settle, and in that movement, she spells a certain inner destruction—usually for a man—but sometimes for herself. There’s a granite in those glances which we can’t help but love her for, perhaps because we feel its absence in our contemporary stars, of a restraint that will not yield.

    Its also quite interesting on her as a person – it seems that pretty much nobody really knew her.

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