With his singular and unwavering style, Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu disregarded the established rules of cinema and created a visual language all his own. Precise compositions, contemplative pacing, low camera angles, and elliptical storytelling are just some of the signature techniques the great filmmaker used to evoke a sense of melancholy and poetry in everyday existence. Now, a new video essay, called “The Depths of Simplicity” and posted to YouTube by Channel Criswell, explores the aesthetic and narrative motifs that recur across Ozu’s extensive body of work. The video, an astute seventeen-minute analysis, breaks down and illustrates Ozu’s innovative way of shooting dialogue, the temporal fractures in his narratives, his rigorous commitment to visual symmetry, and his ability to capture the intricacies of sadness—to name just a few of the topics covered. “His style managed to walk a line so narrow that it can’t be taught,” says Lewis Bond, the video’s narrator and the creator of Channel Criswell. “The best way to understand it is to feel it.”
Watch the video in full below and then revisit your favorite Ozu films this weekend.