Early Summer3

Hara Setsuko and Chishū Ryū in Early Summer (1951) by Ozu Yasujirō

Japan House London Film Season – Focus on Ozu Yasujirō

Early Summer3

Hara Setsuko and Chishū Ryū in Early Summer (1951) by Ozu Yasujirō

Ozu Yasujirō (1903-1963) is undoubtedly one of the most prominent figures in Japanese cinema, if not in the history of cinema throughout the world. Director of over 50 movies – including 34 silent films, most of which are unfortunately irrevocably lost – Ozu developed his own distinctive style. His pictures can be unmistakably recognized by so-called 'tatami shots’ taken from a perspective of a person sitting on the floor, intriguing shots of empty rooms and conversations with characters looking straight into the camera.

But it is not only his signature stylistic traits that make Ozu one of the most noteworthy Japanese directors. It is the themes he obsessively revisits that make the stories he tells meaningful and almost universal. Being a grown-up child of aging parents, being married or expected to get wed, being lonely, watching one’s children grow up and grow apart, caring for someone – those are experiences shared by, and thus, significant to many of us. Ozu’s domestic sagas often bear seemingly similar titles referring to the passing seasons or evoking the nostalgic flavours of home-cooked meals. His films are populated by characters which have the same name and are often played by the same set of cherished actors. Nevertheless, each manages to tell something fresh and new.

Although most scenes are shot inside, the excursions and journeys his characters enjoy provide a glimpse into the emerging metropolis of Tokyo and, into Kyoto, with its temples and rich, old culture. Thanks to this Ozu Yasujirō’s works portray not only the fundamental human condition, but also Japan’s rapidly changing society in the post-war era.

The film season starts with Ozu’s career-defining masterpiece from 1953, Tokyo Story and continues with two earlier works Flavour of Green Tea over Rice (1952) and Late Spring (1949) to be completed by the director’s last work and one of his few colour motion pictures – An Autumn Afternoon (1962).

The screening of Tokyo Story on 19 February is preceded by an introductory talk on Ozu Yasujirō by film critic Jasper Sharp. Book tickets for this talk.

Season Programme

This page is updated with information on individual events as they become available to book.

16 & 19 February 2023: Tokyo Story

12 & 22 March 2023: The Flavour of Green Tea over Rice

16 & 19 April 2023: Late Spring

14 & 17 May 2023: An Autumn Afternoon

The screenings are in Japanese with English subtitles.

Guests who are booked to attend the screening can also enjoy 10% off drinks at The Stand on their way in.