In Search of Ozu

Inside Criterion / On the Channel — Apr 16, 2018

One of cinema’s most sensitive chroniclers of domestic life, Yasujiro Ozu lavished attention not only on the human figures that populate his films but also on the objects that surround them. For In Search of Ozu, an original documentary now playing on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Daniel Raim took a pilgrimage to Japan to get his own firsthand look at some of these iconic items, among them the bright-red teakettle and the patterned teacups that accent the household of Equinox Flower (1958). The archival treasures on display in Raim’s film, a tribute to Ozu that pays special attention to his vibrant color films, also include artifacts from his sets: the white cotton hat he often wore, the tripod he used to compose his famous low-angle “pillow” shots, and the notebooks in which he meticulously planned his compositions. In the above clip from Raim’s documentary, curator Hidenori Okada of Tokyo’s National Film Center delves into how the master’s attentiveness to visual surfaces grew out of his fondness for graphic design, showing off the director’s handwritten screenplay for Late Autumn (1960), touching on his penchant for hand-lettered titles, and recounting how he personally designed all of the bar signs for one street scene in An Autumn Afternoon (1962).