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Yasujiro Ozu

Yasujiro Ozu (小津安二郎 December 12, 1903 - December 12, 1963) was an influential Japanese film director.

He was born in Fukugawa, Tokyo and educated at a boarding school in Matsuzaka. He worked briefly as a teacher before returning to Tokyo in 1923 to join the Shochiku Film Company. Initially a cameraman, he worked as an assistant director within three years and directed his first film, Zange no yaiba (The Sword of Penitence), in 1927. He went on to make a further 53 films - 26 in his first five years as a director, and all but 3 for Shochiku. During WW II he served in China.

He started out making distinctive comedies before moving onto more socially aware works in the 1930s, concentrating on family dramas. He often worked with screenwriter Kogo Noda; other regular collaborators included cameraman Yuharu Atsuta and the actors Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara. His films were most favourably received in the 1950s with works such as Tokyo monogatari (Tokyo Story, 1953), considered to be his masterpiece, and Ochazuke no aji (The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice, 1952), Soshun (Early Spring, 1956), Ukigusa (Floating Weeds, 1959) and Akibiyori (Late Autumn, 1960). His last film was Sanma no aji (An Autumn Afternoon, 1962). He died of cancer on his 60th birthday and is buried in the grounds of Engaku-ji temple, Kamakura.

As a director he was eccentric and a perfectionist. He was seen as one of the 'most Japanese' film-makers, and as such his work was only rarely shown overseas before the 1960s. He did not use sound until 1935 and did not film in colour until Higanbana (Equinox Flower) in 1958. His trademark shot was one taken from only three or so feet above the floor, the viewpoint of a person on a tatami mat. He was also strongly in favour of a static camera and meticulous compositions where no single actor would dominate a scene.