“Late Autumn”

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, 6067 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles, will present “Yasujirō Ozu in Color: The Final Six Films” from Sept. 1 to 14.

The influential Japanese filmmaker and screenwriter Yasujirō Ozu (小津安二郎) was born in Tokyo on Dec. 12, 1903. Before his death exactly 60 years later, on Dec. 12, 1963, Ozu would make 54 feature-length films, several of which, including his much-heralded masterpiece “Tokyo Story” (1953), are uttered in the same breath as history’s most beloved movies.

The bulk of Ozu’s work is situated within the **shomin-geki** (“common people drama”) tradition, mirroring real-world tensions within multi-generational families in postwar Japan. With his iconic low-angle framing, Ozu seats his viewers next to his protagonists on the tatami mat, inviting us into intimate domestic settings to both embrace and scrutinize the complicated dynamics of mid-century Japanese life.

The museum will screen Ozu’s six films shot in vibrant color to celebrate the 120th anniversary of his birth. Another way to honor his legacy is at the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library, where an exhibition of rare behind-the-scenes photographs, publicity stills, and never-before-seen snapshots from Ozu’s life and work is on display through December.

“Equinox Flower”

The schedule is as follows (programmed and notes by K.J. Relth-Miller):

Friday, Sept. 1, at 7:30 p.m.: “Equinox Flower” (彼岸花), 1958. Ozu’s first color film builds on the powerful themes from his unparalleled masterpiece “Tokyo Story” (1953) to conjure deep empathy for youth in postwar Japan. Based on the novel by Japanese author Ton Satomi, the film follows a rich businessman (Shin Saburi) as he learns, to his dismay, that his daughter (Ineko Arima) will marry a man he’s never met.

Though the flower of the title, the higanbana, implies a bad omen, Ozu’s cheerful balance between depicting a father’s frustration and honoring the dignity of the younger generation foregrounds the filmmaker’s understanding of youth, a progressive theme that carries through his final six films.

Introduction by Matt Severson, director, Margaret Herrick Library.

Thursday, Sept. 7, at 7:30 p.m.: “Good Morning” (お早よう), 1959. A remake of Ozu’s silent comedy “I Was Born, But…” (1932), this is a lighthearted tale of the suburban, school-aged Hayashi brothers, who simply must have a television set. When their mother refuses, they take a vow of silence that leads to worse repercussions when the neighbors assume she’s seeking vengeance for an earlier misunderstanding.

As fanciful as the rich color photography, shot by late-career Ozu regular collaborator Yuharu Atsuta, are the film’s playful games of telephone sprinkled throughout this sprightly satire of consumer culture and generational divide in postwar Japan.

Introduction by actor, comedian, and author Julia Sweeney.

Friday, Sept. 8, at 7:30 p.m.: “Floating Weeds” (浮草), 1959. Shot by regular Kenji Mizoguchi and Akira Kurosawa lenser Kazuo Miyagawa (“Rashōmon,” “Ugetsu”), this remake of Ozu’s earlier “A Story of Floating Weeds” (1934) is faithful to the original, save for location, which he updates to the Seto Inland Sea.

When the aging lead actor of a traveling theater troupe docks in the seaside town of his former mistress and their now-teenaged child, his current lover, caught completely off guard, plots her revenge. In the film’s title lies a metaphor for the leisurely, at times lonely, pace of life, a recurring image in Japanese poetry that signals Ozu’s enchantment with the quotidian.   

Saturday, Sept. 9, at 7:30 p.m.: “Late Autumn” (秋日和), 1960. “To me,” Ozu once said, “each thing I produce is a new expression… like a painter who always paints the same rose” — an apt statement from a director who consistently remade his earlier films to infuse updated sentiments into their timeless stories.

To that end, “Late Autumn” is a reimagining of “Late Spring” (1949), the film that kicked off his creative burst in the 1950s, and was lensed by the same cinematographer who captured his stunning “Equinox Flower,” Yuharu Atsuta. Selected as Japan’s entry for the 33rd Academy Awards, “Late Autumn” chronicles modern courtship with Ozu’s signature compassion.

Thursday, Sept. 14, at 7:30 p.m.: “The End of Summer” (小早川家の秋), 1961. Ozu’s sole film for Toho, the studio responsible for the Godzilla film series, was also his penultimate, and for the studio’s stable of performers, including comedic actor Hisaya Morishige and kaiju genre regular Akira Takarada, their one chance to work with the legendary filmmaker.

A delicate blend of tragedy and comedy as experienced by a family unit unsettled by a foolish father’s romantic whims, “The End of Summer” is also a grounded reflection on grief. The film marks beloved actor Setsuko Hara’s (1920–2015) sixth and final movie with Ozu; she would retire shortly after the film’s completion with credits in nearly 100 titles.

“An Autumn Afternoon” (秋刀魚の味), 1962. Legendary actor Chishū Ryū (1904-1993) appeared in 52 of Ozu’s 54 films over their decades-long collaboration. For Ozu’s final film, Ryū plays the widowed father of three adult children who feels obligated to arrange his youngest daughter’s marriage. The film’s Japanese title, “The Taste of Sanma,” evokes the fish typically consumed as fall transitions into winter.

Seasonal change was a matter of fact for Ozu, and his late-career output turns that fact into a kind of poetry: the film’s final words, spoken by Ryū, are one of the most lyrical endings to any film, and an unparalleled career, as one could possibly imagine.

Introduction by Matsuura Kanji, filmmaker and founder of The Ozu Yasujiro Institute, and Miyamoto Akiko, film researcher and professor.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for students and children. For the double feature, tickets are $12 for adults, $9 for seniors, $7 for students and children. For more information, call (323) 930-3000, email academymuseum@oscars.org or visit www.academymuseum.org.

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