Directed by Yasujiro Ozu

Directed by Yasujiro Ozu

39 Episodes

Yasujiro Ozu was Japanese cinema’s great poet of everyday life, and, 120 years after his birth, he remains one of the most significant film artists who ever lived. From the late 1920s to the early ’60s, Ozu explored the rhythms and tensions of a country trying to reconcile modern and traditional values, especially as played out in relations between the generations. Though he is best known for his 1953 masterpiece TOKYO STORY, Ozu began his career in the silent era in a looser mode, with comedies like I WAS BORN, BUT . . . and gangster movies like DRAGNET GIRL. He then gradually mastered the domestic drama during the war years and afterward, employing both humor, as in GOOD MORNING, and distilled drama, as in LATE SPRING, before the final blossoming of his art in such late color triumphs as AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON. With its instantly recognizable hallmarks—static shots, often from the vantage point of someone sitting low on a tatami mat; patient pacing; moments of transcendence represented by the isolated beauty of everyday objects—Ozu’s rigorous style has influenced filmmakers as various as Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Claire Denis, and Paul Schrader.

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Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
  • In Search of Ozu

    Episode 1

    In this original documentary, filmmaker Daniel Raim explores Yasujiro Ozu’s late work through the objects that were important to him and the people who knew him best.

  • I Graduated, But . . .

    Episode 2

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1929 • Japan

    An unemployed college graduate attempts to trick his family into thinking that he has a job. This fragment, presented without a score, is from a film whose full version has been lost.

  • A Straightforward Boy

    Episode 3

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1929 • Japan

    A kidnapped boy proves to be more than his abductor can handle in this fragment, presented without a score, from a film whose full version has been lost.

  • I Flunked, But . . .

    Episode 4

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1930 • Japan
    Starring Tatsuo Saito, Kinuyo Tanaka, Chishu Ryu

    After the plans of a college student (Tatsuo Saito) to cheat on his final exams by scribbling notes on his shirt go awry, he is left to reassess his life and education and get back on track. Featuring legend...

  • That Night’s Wife

    Episode 5

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1930 • Japan

    In noirish darkness, a man commits a shocking robbery. But, as we soon learn, this seeming criminal mastermind is actually a sensitive everyman driven to desperation by the need to provide for his family. Unfolding over the course of one night, Yasujiro Oz...

  • Walk Cheerfully

    Episode 6

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1930 • Japan

    In Yasujiro Ozu's WALK CHEERFULLY, which gracefully combines elements of the relationship drama and the gangster story, small-time hood Kenji, a.k.a. Ken the Knife, wants to go straight for good girl Yasue but finds that starting over isn't as simple as ...

  • The Lady and the Beard

    Episode 7

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1931 • Japan
    Starring Tokihiko Okada, Hiroko Kawasaki, Choko Iida

    Prominently bearded, resolutely old-fashioned kendo champion Okajima (Tokihiko Okada) struggles to find a job thanks to his peculiar, conservative ways, which inevitably alienate his more progressive pee...

  • Tokyo Chorus

    Episode 8

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1931 • Japan

    Combining three prevalent genres of the day, the student comedy, the salaryman film, and the domestic drama, Ozu created this warmhearted family comedy, and demonstrated that he was truly coming into his own as a cinema craftsman. The setup is simple: Low ...

  • I Was Born, But . . .

    Episode 9

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1932 • Japan

    One of Ozu's most popular films, I WAS BORN, BUT . . . is a blithe portrait of the financial and psychological toils of one family, as told from the rascally point of view of a couple of stubborn little boys. For two brothers, the daily struggles of bullie...

  • Where Now Are the Dreams of Youth?

    Episode 10

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1932 • Japan
    Starring Ureo Egawa, Kinuyo Tanaka, Tatsuo Saito

    In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Yasujiro Ozu made a string of comedies dealing with student life, the last of which, WHERE NOW ARE THE DREAMS OF YOUTH?, finds the director exploring increasingly complex t...

  • Dragnet Girl

    Episode 11

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1933 • Japan

    This formally accomplished and psychologically complex gangster tale pivots on the growing attraction between Joji, a hardened career criminal, and Kazuko, the sweet-natured older sister of a newly initiated young hoodlum, a relationship that provokes the ...

  • Passing Fancy

    Episode 12

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1933 • Japan

    The first of many films featuring the endearing single-dad Kihachi (played wonderfully by Takeshi Sakamoto), PASSING FANCY is a humorous and heartfelt study of a close, if fraught, father-son relationship. With an ever more sophisticated visual style and u...

  • Woman of Tokyo

    Episode 13

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1933 • Japan
    Starring Yoshiko Okada, Ureo Egawa, Kinuyo Tanaka

    In this powerful, compassionate melodrama, Chikako (Yoshiko Okada) works by day as a typist to help put her brother Ryoichi (Ureo Egawa) through school. What he doesn’t know is that by night she also works ...

  • A Mother Should Be Loved

    Episode 14

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1934 • Japan
    Starring Mitsuko Yoshikawa, Yukichi Iwata, Den Ohinata

    Despite its missing first and last reels, this sensitive domestic drama remains a key work in the refinement of director Yasujiro Ozu’s style in its intimate focus on family dynamics. Following the dea...

  • A Story of Floating Weeds

    Episode 15

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1934 • Japan
    Starring Takeshi Sakamoto, Choko Iida, Koji (Hideo) Mitsui

    In 1959, Yasujiro Ozu remade his 1934 silent classic A STORY OF FLOATING WEEDS in color with the celebrated cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa (RASHOMON, UGETSU). Setting his later version in a seaside...

  • An Inn in Tokyo

    Episode 16

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1935 • Japan

    The final still-extant silent film directed by Yasujiro Ozu is an exquisitely tender portrait of everyday survival in 1930s Japan. Anticipating the neorealist poetry of BICYCLE THIEVES, AN INN IN TOKYO follows unemployed ne’er-do-well Kihachi (Takeshi Saka...

  • The Only Son

    Episode 17

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1936 • Japan
    Starring Choko Iida, Shinichi Himori, Masao Hayama

    Yasujiro Ozu’s first talkie, the uncommonly poignant THE ONLY SON is among the Japanese director’s greatest works. In its simple story about a good-natured mother who gives up everything to ensure her son’...

  • What Did the Lady Forget?

    Episode 18

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1937 • Japan
    Starring Michiko Kuwano, Tatsuo Saito, Sumiko Kurishima

    Yasujiro Ozu puts a witty spin on his recurring theme of generational clash in this sophisticated comedy, which bears the unmistakable influence of Ernst Lubitsch. When modern, liberated Setsuko (Mich...

  • Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family

    Episode 19

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1941 • Japan
    Starring Mieko Takamine, Shin Saburi, Hideo Fujino

    Following a three-year break from filmmaking while he completed military service, Yasujiro Ozu returned to directing with this pointed family drama which in many ways anticipates the themes he would explor...

  • There Was a Father

    Episode 20

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1942 • Japan
    Starring Chishu Ryu, Haruhiko Tsugawa, Shuji Sano

    Yasujiro Ozu’s frequent leading man Chishu Ryu is riveting as Shuhei, a widowed high school teacher who finds that the more he tries to do what is best for his son’s future, the more they are separated. Tho...

  • Record of a Tenement Gentleman

    Episode 21

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1947 • Japan
    Starring Choko Iida, Hohi Aoki, Eitaro Ozawa

    Yasujiro Ozu’s first post–World War II film takes place in an impoverished Tokyo neighborhood that has been partly destroyed in bombing raids. Here, a hard-hearted middle-aged widow (Choko Iida) reluctantly take...

  • A Hen in the Wind

    Episode 22

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1948 • Japan
    Starring Kinuyo Tanaka, Shuji Sano, Chieko Murata

    Perhaps Yasujiro Ozu’s darkest film, this devastating account of Japan’s wartime realities follows the struggles of Tokiko (Kinuyo Tanaka), a mother who is forced to turn to sex work in order to pay off her...

  • Late Spring

    Episode 23

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1949 • Japan
    Starring Chishu Ryu, Setsuko Hara, Yumeji Tsukioka

    One of the most powerful of Yasujiro Ozu’s family portraits, LATE SPRING (BANSHUN) tells the story of a widowed father who feels compelled to marry off his beloved only daughter. Eminent Ozu players Chishu...

  • The Munekata Sisters

    Episode 24

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1950 • Japan
    Starring Kinuyo Tanaka, Hideko Takamine, Ken Uehara

    Japanese golden-age greats Kinuyo Tanaka and Hideko Takamine star in this rich melodrama centered on two sisters: the reserved, traditional Setsuko (Tanaka), unhappily married to an alcoholic wastrel, and...