Roger Ebert on Yasujiro Ozu


We are programmed to think in terms of “foreign films,” as if somehow their values are just as foreign as their languages. With Ozu, that is not the case. Last winter I taught a class on the greatest films of all time, as selected in an international poll held every 10 years by Sight & Sound magazine. One of the films was Ozu’s “Tokyo Story" (1953). Most of the class members hadn’t seen an Ozu film before, and were not necessarily looking forward to it, so I was surprised by the intensity of their response. As Ozu’s story unfolded, telling of the old couple who come to visit their children and are received correctly but distractedly, there was first of all complete silence in the auditorium, and then I began to hear snuffling and the blowing of noses, and when the movie was over and the lights went up it was clear that for many of the viewers it had been a powerful emotional experience. Weeks later, when the class ended, it was agreed that none of the other "greatest films" had equaled the Ozu in its emotional impact.

[Roger Ebert]

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