By Yash Thakur. Posted on December 28, 2015
At first glance, there's not much in common between Yasujiro Ozu and Wes Anderson. The “most Japanese” of all directors, Ozu's films are calm, quiet, beautifully calibrated works that document the slow reordering of families in the face of Japan’s rapid modernization. Anderson’s movies are chaotic and whimsical, filled with wry humor and a good amount of action, that highlight the dysfunctionality of Western families.
However this post on Open Culture will have you believe otherwise. Both filmmakers are basically two sides of the same coin: Both Ozu and Anderson have a stable of actors that they work with repeatedly — Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara for Ozu, Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray for Anderson. Both filmmakers’ movies are about the complex, often fraught, relationships between parents and children. While Anderson is obsessed with ornamentation and artificiality, Ozu approaches his characters and story with simple realism. The families have a turbulent time in their films, with Anderson having more optimistic endings while Ozu choosing to be realistic and hard-hitting.
In this video essay below, Anna Cately makes a similar case. Both filmmakers have a clear and highly stylized manner of constructing their movies: Ozu’s films are characterized by symmetrical compositions, an unmoving camera (that remains just about two and a half feet off of the ground) and scenery between dialogues, Anderson's movies also have symmetrical compositions, complex shots, set designs and overhead shots. Both directors' also have a fondness for the family house where the architecture can be easily dissected. Both also make heavy use of close-ups where it seems that the actors are talking directly to the audience. Watch the video below and tell us of the other parallels that you can think of.