Ozu – Three Melodramas is, you guessed it, a DVD collection containing three fine examples of Yasujiro Ozu’s work within the genre he was most synonymous with, melodrama. I use that term lightly, as his subtle touch doesn’t seem to fit the mould, more just the subject matter of much of his work. Included in the set is an early silent film, Woman of Tokyo (1933), and the two films he made after Tokyo Story, Early Spring (1956) and Tokyo Twilight (1957). Below I give brief reviews of each feature and look at the set as a whole.
Woman of Tokyo
Director: Yasujiro Ozu
Screenplay: Kogo Noda & Tadao Ikeda
Starring: Yoshiko Okada, Ureo Egawa and Kinuyo Tanaka
Running Time: 45 min
Produced not long after Where Now Are the Dreams of Youth, Woman of Tokyo is one of Ozu’s later silent films and, like the former, isn’t quite as refined and perfect as his later, more popular work, but is nonetheless beautifully made and can be recommended to fans of the director.
Woman of Tokyo tells the story of Ryoichi (Ureo Egawa) and Chikako (Yoshiko Okada) who are brother and sister and share an apartment in Tokyo. Ryoichi is a student and relies on Chikako to pay his way with her office job. Ryoichi’s girlfriend Harue (Kinuyo Tanaka) however, hears a rumour through her policeman brother that Chikako actually moonlights at night as a prostitute to make ends meet. When Ryoichi finds out he doesn’t know how to react to this shocking revelation.
Being a short ‘semi-feature’ at only 45 minutes and having actually been produced very quickly (in 8 days), Woman of Tokyo does feel quite rushed when compared to Ozu’s more well known work. It has many early examples of his great use of cutaways, but here they are often used over scenes playing out rather than to break things up. There are some wonderful match cuts though, such as when a scene of Chikako heading off on her latest ‘job’ ends on a street lamp then cuts to Ryoichi’s room light to signify that he’s been waiting up all night for her. Of course it looks fantastic too as Ozu had settled into his signature style by this point.