Three Melodramas by Yasujiro Ozu, released on 18 June 2012, is the latest addition to the BFI’s DVD strand The Ozu Collection. Melodrama is a word rarely associated with the work of the master Japanese director, whose beautifully constructed films capture the poetry of everyday life. Spanning his career, these three films, Early Spring (1956), Tokyo Twilight (1957) and the rare silent Woman of Tokyo (1933), demonstrate the director’s ability to apply his exquisite style to darker themes.
Woman of Tokyo (Tokyo no onna)
Ozu’s silent Woman of Tokyo sees the director experimenting with the cutaways that were to become so associated with his later style. Chikako (Yoshiko Okada) works hard to pay for her brother Ryoichi’s (Ureo Egawa) college fees. When Ryoichi learns the true nature of this work disaster ensues. This tragic tale of misunderstood sacrifice features a new score by Ed Hughes.
Early Spring (Soshun)
Made just after his celebrated Tokyo Story, Ozu’s Early Spring tackles the problems of young salaried workers. Shoji (Ryu Ikebe) and his wife Masako, played by the multitalented Chikage Awashima (Late Spring), struggle to come to terms with a family tragedy. When the office flirt ‘Goldfish’ (Keiko Kishi) starts to interest Shoji, the couple’s fragile peace is severely threatened.
Japan / 1933 + 1957 / black and white / silent with optional score, Japanese intertitles and audio with English subtitles; Japanese, English subtitles / DVD 9 / 45 mins + 139 mins / Dolby digital 320kbps / Original aspect ratio 1.33:1
Tokyo Twilight (Tokyo Boshoku)
Abandoned by their mother when they were young, sisters Akiko (Ineko Arima) and Takako (Setsuko Hara) live with their father Shukichi (played by Ozu’s favourite actor Chishu Ryu). Each nurses her own personal sorrow but when Akiko falls into desperate trouble she turns away from her family. Ozu’s last film in black and white, Tokyo Twilight is a masterpiece of atmospheric chiaroscuro.
Japan / 1957 / black and white / Japanese, English subtitles / DVD 9 / 135 mins / Dolby digital 224kbps / Original aspect ratio 1.33:1
- Optional score for Woman of Tokyo by Ed Hughes commissioned exclusively for the BFI
- Illustrated booklet including a newly commissioned essay from Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns and other contributions (including a piece by TDF's Anthony Nield and ex-Masters of Cinema/ex-DVDTimes man Nick Wrigley)
This DVD only release carries an RRP of £29.99.