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Reorienting OzuA Master and His Influence$
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Jinhee Choi

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190254971

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190254971.001.0001

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Ozu, the Ineffable

Ozu, the Ineffable

(p.33) Chapter 2 Ozu, the Ineffable
Reorienting Ozu

Darrell W Davis

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the conceit of Ozu’s Zen Buddhist underpinnings, especially the impression his films leave on Western critics. Paul Schrader’s “transcendental” account of Ozu kicked off a cycle of mystical Oriental tropics in the 1970s. Because the Western discovery of Ozu’s films centered on the stately postwar masterpieces, Ozu’s early comedies and genre pictures were neglected; they did not feed into the model of ineffable otherness. Japanese critics have had little patience with this approach and have provided rich rebuttals, particularly Hasumi Shigehiko and Yoshida Kiju. Hasumi is intent on breaking the conflation of Ozu’s ascetic style with negative or abstemious nuances. In Ozu, Yoshida sees a cinema of restored superfluity, a presignifying world, with things seeming to look back at viewers. Bordwell, Thompson, Burch, and Richie have all rounded out Ozu’s reputation, sometimes picking up Zen cues but also broadening the oeuvre.

Keywords:   transcendental style, home drama, nonsense pictures, spirituality, holiness, Paul Schrader, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Donald Richie, Shochiku studio, Zen Buddhism

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