From the director of such classics as Late Spring, Tokyo Story, and Floating Weeds, Criterion brings us a 3-disc collection from Japanese auteur Yasujiro Ozu. Although he has not yet reached the wide-spread acclaim of fellow countryman Akira Kurosawa, Ozu is starting to gain the recognition that he rightfully deserves.
Ozu began his career as a cameraman, and with hard work and determination he finally ascended the ladder to director. Once his position was earned, Ozu poured his creativity onto film with unmatched diligence, producing nearly half of his 50+ films in the first five years of his career. Sadly, many of these films are now lost, which adds to the enjoyment of these extraordinary, previously unreleased films from Criterion.
As the title suggests, the films in this collection were released during a portion of Ozu's silent career, ranging from 1931-1933. Ozu, along with the majority of the Japanese film industry, was somewhat hesitant about entering into talkies based upon the belief that emotions could be best conveyed with movements, expressions, and atmosphere, not dialogue. Ozu's first talkie was not released until 1936, the same year as Chaplin's final silent masterpiece, Modern Times. This period of his career marked Ozu's transition into social criticism as he both subtly and blatantly expresses his discontent with the culture of pre-WWII Japan.
Tokyo Chorus (1931) - A man is fired from his job for reasons that would normally be viewed as commendable. The film from here follows his social and financial downfall as he does anything he possibly can to support his family. As in the other films in this collection, the plot of Tokyo Chorus sounds very dramatic but Ozu has a certain way of shedding a positive light onto each situation.
I Was Born, But... (1932) - A story of the hardships of childhood and the ways in which children view their parents in unappreciative and misconstrued ways. A comedy with some serious overtones.
Passing Fancy (1933) - The final film in this collection is about the unstable relationship of a widower and his son. It focuses on a child's attempts to help an alcoholic parent while also being resentful of the unstoppable forces of change.
And just in case anyone needs to know I'll post the technical aspects of the films as well.
Black and White
Dolby Digital Mono 1.0