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Yasujiro Ozu. Lecture 13. Historical Context of Japanese Cinema. Growth of the Japanese film industry after the 1923 earthquake Successful Japanese film industry Early 1930s Output: 400 to 500 per year Studio industry model Vertically integrated companies Nikkatsu (cadre system)

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Yasujiro ozu

YasujiroOzu

Lecture 13


Historical context of japanese cinema
Historical Context of Japanese Cinema

  • Growth of the Japanese film industry after the 1923 earthquake

  • Successful Japanese film industry

    • Early 1930s Output: 400 to 500 per year

    • Studio industry model

      • Vertically integrated companies

        • Nikkatsu (cadre system)

        • Shochiku (cadre system)

        • Toho (producer system)

  • One of the only countries in which U.S. films did not overtake Japanese films in the local market


Japanese cinema in the 1930s
Japanese Cinema in the 1930s

  • Two kinds of film

    • 1. historical film: jidai-geki

      • Swordfights, chases, heroic deaths

    • 2. contemporary-life film: gendai-geki

      • Films about lower class life; comedies

  • Most influential filmmakers of this period: YasujiroOzu and Kenji Mizoguchi


Classical hollywood cinema on space
Classical Hollywood Cinema: on space

  • The “continuity style” of Classical Hollywood Cinema “has as its aim the subordination of spatial (and temporal) structures to the logic of the narrative, especially to the cause/effect chain” (Bordwell and Thompson, 1976)

  • Space should not distract from the action; space is a site for action (Bordwell/Thompson, 1976)

  • Space (setting) serve the a) narrative and b) to reveal character traits


How to achieve the continuity style
How to achieve the “continuity style”?

1. Certain spatial points are at the center of the dramatic action (unlike in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari)

  • Usually main characters (sometimes objects) are spatial points

  • Camera follows these spatial points

  • Often everything else is out of focus

    2. 180-degree system

    Objective: to cut down on spatial disorientation between shots; to maintain a continuous flow; to limit spectatorial confusion; to make space legible

    Methods:

    • Match on action

    • Axis of action/180 degree rule

    • 30 degree rule

      3. Objects function as a) props that give a sense of authenticity/realism or b) to show something significant about the characters

    • Ex: Rome landmarks Bicycle Thieves; harmonica and boots in Paisá

      4. No graphic contrasts (as in Eisenstein) and no overly precise graphic matches (as in Vertov); consistent lighting levels

  • The surface of the film should not call attention to itself like in Entre’acteand Un ChienAndalouand Meshes of the Afternoon




180 degree rule from bordwell thompson
180-degree rule example(from Bordwell/Thompson)


180 degree rule rear window
180-degree rule example(Rear Window)


180 degree rule bicycle thieves
180-degree rule example(Bicycle Thieves)


Objects in the classical style buckets and sheets bicycle thieves
Objects in the Classical exampleStyle: Buckets and Sheets (Bicycle Thieves)


Objects in the classical style harmonica and boots paisan
Objects in the Classical exampleStyle: Harmonica and Boots (Paisan)



Graphic contrasts in editing counter example to the classical style from battleship potemkin
Graphic Contrasts in Editing: counter example to the Classical Style (from Battleship Potemkin)


Ozu s style
Ozu’s Classical Style (from Style

  • Camera height vs. camera angle

    • Low camera height

    • Straight-on camera angle

  • Intermediate spaces (within a shot/within a scene/ between scenes) vs. establishing shots

    • “spaces between the points of narrative action” ex: landscapes, empty rooms, “actionless spaces” (Bordwell/Thompson, 1976, 46)

      • Methods

        • Focus (within a shot)

        • Cutaways (within a single scene)

        • Series of transitional shots (between scenes)

  • 360 degree shooting space

    • Multiples of 90 degrees

    • Two kinds of circular space

      • Camera circles around people and objects

      • Camera rotates on its axis at the center of the circle

  • Objects in space (sometimes symbolic, often not)

    • “hypersituated” (Bordwell/Thompson)—objects divorced from function

  • Graphic matches from shot to shot


Late Spring Classical Style (from (Ozu, 1949)

Low camera height


Low camera height
Low Camera Height Classical Style (from


Late Spring Classical Style (from (Ozu, 1949)

Intermediate spaces:

spaces between points of narrative action


Traditional establishing shot
Traditional Establishing Shot Classical Style (from


Ozu s series of actionless spaces intermediate spaces 1 transitions
Ozu’s Classical Style (from series of actionlessspaces: Intermediate spaces:1. TRANSITIONS


Ozu s series of actionless spaces intermediate spaces 1 transitions1
Ozu’s Classical Style (from series of actionlessspaces: Intermediate spaces: 1. TRANSITIONS


Intermediate spaces: Classical Style (from

1. TRANSITIONS; 2.Play with FOCUS


Intermediate spaces: Classical Style (from

1. TRANSITIONS; 2.Play with FOCUS; 3. The CUTAWAY


More examples intermediate space perspectiveless actionless space
More examples: Intermediate space: Classical Style (from perspectiveless, actionless space


Late Spring Classical Style (from (Ozu, 1949)

360 degree space


180 degree rule from bordwell thompson1
180-degree rule Classical Style (from (from Bordwell/Thompson)


Late spring ozu 1949
Late Spring Classical Style (from (Ozu, 1949)


Late spring ozu 19491
Late Spring Classical Style (from (Ozu, 1949)


Late spring ozu 19492
Late Spring Classical Style (from (Ozu, 1949)


Late Spring Classical Style (from (Ozu, 1949)

Hypersituated objects


Hypersituated object
Classical Style (from Hypersituated object”

  • Bordwell/Thompson:

    “In Hollywood, any objects which are not used as props or externalisations of character traits are simply there to be minimally noticeable as part of a general verisimilitude [appearance of being real] –a background for the narrative…. But in many Ozufilm scenes, the objects in the space of the scene vie successfully with the narrative action for attention.”


Vase sequence
Vase sequence Classical Style (from


Late Spring Classical Style (from (Ozu, 1949)

Graphic matches


Graphic matches
Graphic Matches Classical Style (from