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The Cinema of Ozu Yasujiro

Histories of the Everyday

Woojeong Joo

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A re-interpretation of the master of Japanese cinema from a socio-historical perspective

One of the most well regarded of non-Western film directors, responsible for acknowledged classics like Tokyo Story (1953), Ozu Yasujiro worked during a period of immense turbulence for Japan and its population. This book offers a new interpretation of Ozu’s career, from his earliest work in the 1920s up to his death in 1963, focusing on Ozu’s depiction of the everyday life and experiences of ordinary Japanese people during a time of depression, war and economic resurgence. Firmly situating him within the context of the Japanese film industry, Woojeong Joo examines Ozu’s work as a studio director and his relation to sound cinema, and looks in-depth at his wartime experiences and his adaptation to post-war Japanese society. Drawing on Japanese materials not previously examined in western scholarship, this is a ground-breaking new study of a master of cinema.

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List of Illustrations
List of Tables

INTRODUCTION: Ozu, History, and the Everyday

EARLY OZU: Shōshimin Film and Everyday Realism

OZU IN TRANSITION: Coming of Sound and Family Melodrama

WARTIME OZU: In between Bourgeois Drama and National Policy Film

OZU AND POSTWAR: Ozu’s Occupation era films and Tokyo Regained

LATE OZU: New Generation and New Salaryman Film

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About the Author

Woojeong Joo received his PhD degree from University of Warwick. He worked at University of East Anglia as a postdoctoral research assistant for AHRC funded project, ‘Manga to Movies’, and is currently teaching in Japan-in-Asia Cultural Studies Program at Nagoya University, Japan.


This is a groundbreaking publication that is going to make a significant contribution to English language scholarship on one of the most important directors in international film history. Woojeong Joo’s patient and attentive focus on the shifting stylistic and contextual elements of Ozu’s vast filmography uncovers a textured and highly nuanced tapestry of Japanese social experience. This book is a wise riposte to Paul Schrader’s misleading dictum that ‘in the everyday nothing is expressive, all is coldness.’ Far from it, Joo argues. For Ozu, the everyday was the key location where form, feeling and history found their most meaningful and enduring coalescence.

- Dr Alastair Phillips, University of Warwick

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