Three Films by Yasujiro Ozu [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - British Film Institute
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (14th October 2023).
The Film

"Three Films by Yasujiro Ozu"

"Dragnet Girl" 「非常線の女」 (1933)

Tokiko (played by Kinuyo Tanaka) works as a typist at an office where she is in a relationship with the company boss’ son Joji (played by Joji Oka). She may be in a respectable position during the daytime, though at night it is quite different as she hangs with Joji at smoky underground nightclubs. Joji isn’t following in his father’s footsteps, as he is a former boxer and a small time gangster looking for a bigger score. One day a young man named Hiroshi (played by Koji Mitsui) asks to join the gang, as he is short on money and other prospects. This causes concern with his older sister Kazuko (played by Sumiko Mizukubo), who asks Joji to try to keep her brother away from a life of crime.

Out of the 34 silent features that filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu directed between 1927 and 1936, only half are known to exist in complete or in fragmented form. “Dragnet Girl” was the director’s 28th film, and is one that fortunately survives in a fully intact state. Made when he was only 29 years old, the film is an homage to American cinema, especially the gangster genre, showcasing a slightly exaggerated version of Yokohama that was more westernized than it already was at the time. Ozu was highly inspired by Hollywood, whether they were melodramas, slapstick comedy, war films, or gangster dramas, and his earliest features paid respect to the import features. The cinematic works of Josef von Sternberg, William A. Wellman and others that produced dark and unsettling environments with criminals around every corner were major inspirations for “Dragnet Girl”. Ozu wrote the script himself went under the pen name “James Maki”, his Japanese-American alter ego.

The opening tracking sequence shows a row of typewriters in an office, which may have been a common sight in America, but was a rarity in Japan. Japanese typewriters did exist at the time, but due to the extremely complex nature of having to combine portions of kanji characters to make one legible kanji, they were sparingly used in office environments. For the most part, if a typewriter was in a Japanese office, it was for writing in Roman letters, therefore English. Showcasing an office with multiple typewriters indicate that it is an international organization, with English being used heavily, though the film does not explicitly say what kind of business they are in. A lot of the text that appears in the film is in English. From books to posters, there are numerous examples of Ozu inserting homages with film posters of Hollywood features, posters of star American boxer Jack Dempsey, and others to decorate the sets. Apartments are modernized and do not have the traditional Japanese feel with tatami mats or shoji screens, instead with wooden flooring and characters using doors with doorknobs. The female dancers in the nightclubs, the suits, trench coats and hats worn by the men are also derived from the west, yet there are still traces of Japan in the setting, most evident with the character of Kazuko who is seen wearing traditional clothing, though she works at a record shop specializing in western classical music.

But the main focus is on the main couple which is Tokiko and Joji, While Tokiko may seem content with having a different lifestyle during night and day, it is later in the film that she starts seeing the right direction and wanting Joji to lead an honest life. Tanaka’s portrayal is an interesting one, as she plays a complex role with moral leanings that change over the course of the story. Oka as Joji sees his life as stuck in the underworld, and doesn’t see a reality in which he could free himself from the clutches of gang life. Although when he encounters Kazuko as she pleads not to let her younger brother get into any trouble, he starts to see the pain that such a lifestyle could cause. His encounters with Kazuko show a different side to that of when he is with his partner Tokiko, and his change of heart ultimately is crucial to the plot. He doesn’t have a change of heart for himself, but sees an opportunity to prevent the bumbling Hiroshi to fall into the wrong circle.

One of the standout performances is from Sumiko Mizukubo, in her only appearance in an Ozu directed feature. Born Tatsuko Ogino on October 10th, 1916, she made her film debut with Shochiku Film Productions in 1932 with her stage name “Sumiko Mizukubo” at the age of fifteen in director Mikio Naruse’s “Mushibameru Haru” (which can be translated as “Eroding Spring”). Within a year, she appeared in twelve films, including Naruse’s “Apart from You”, released a few weeks prior to “Dragnet Girl”. Although she was only 16 years old at the time, she was able to carry out an excellent performance of the concerned older sister, even though she was actually six years younger than the actor playing her brother. With her exotic looks being compared to American actress Silvia Sidney by marketing and the press, she quickly became a star to market for the film studio. She continued to appear in an incredible 18 films for Shochiku, but in March of 1934, she tried to commit suicide. Three months later, she nullified her contract with Shochiku and signed with Nikkatsu Studios. In addition, during the filming of the two-part epic film “Midori no chiheisen” (which can be translated as “The Green Horizon”), she suddenly married a medical student from the Philippines, quit the film industry and moved to the Philippines, where she believed her husband lived in a lavish home like a prince. Unfortunately it was much worse than she had imagined, as the home was in poor condition and she was treated like a slave by her husband’s relatives. They had a child together, but Mizukubo would flee from her marriage in less than a year, where she returned to Japan alone with little opportunity. She worked in dancehalls but the movie business was not interested in supporting a scandal ridden actress. Though she had appeared in thirty-nine feature films, her career in films was at an end in 1935, at the young age of nineteen. There were rumors of her in Manchuria during WWII entertaining the Japanese troops. It was said that she returned to Japan after the war, and there is a story of her estranged son visiting Japan to find her which proved unsuccessful. A gossip magazine from 1968 printed that she was living a quiet life alone in Meguro in Tokyo, but there have been no signs or stories of her since then, and her death is unconfirmed. She would be 107 years old if she is still alive today.

As stated earlier, the use of tracking shots and movement showcase Ozu’s youthful directing style that would change in later works. But there are elements of Ozu’s trademarks found in “Dragnet Girl” throughout, from establishing shots, visual details in backgrounds and foregrounds, and geometric composition. For audiences that are used to Ozu’s more celebrated later works, his early silent are a quite different in pacing and style, showcasing a young filmmaker finding his rhythm and tone while experimenting with techniques and paying respect to elite Hollywood filmmaking.

The script was written in about a week by Ozu and presented to Shochiku on January 24th, 1933. But before production could be started, Shochiku commissioned Ozu to direct “Woman of Tokyo”, written by Kogo Noda and Tadao Ikeda, a melodrama about a girl studying to become a translator but secretly working at a dancehall at night. With locations set and the casting already completed, the shoot started on January 27th, 1933 and completed on February 4th, and the 47-minute film being theatrically released on February 9th. (The schedule may sound incredibly quick, though the fast turnaround process was a commonplace in the silent era, even for major Japanese studios.) After locations were secured and the cast being recruited, the production for “Dragnet Girl” started shooting on March 8th, 1933 and completed in early April. The film opened theatrically on March 27th, 1933 as a double bill with “The Errant Knight's Spring Rain Umbrella”, directed by Taizo Fuyushima.

The film didn’t receive any awards recognition at the time of its release, though it would receive higher praise after the rediscovery of Ozu’s silent era with his experimental style and homage to American filmmaking in a unique way. The film first received a digital release in Japan on DVD with the “Yasujiro Ozu Collection Volume 4” from Shochiku, which collected eleven of his silent features. It was later released in 2013 by the BFI as part of “The Ozu Collection: The Gangster Films” 2-disc DVD set and in 2015 by the Criterion Collection as part of “Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas” in 2015, with both releases including the same three features – “Walk Cheerfully” (1930), “That Night’s Wife” (1930) and “Dragnet Girl”, though they would have differing commissioned film scores included. In 2022, a 4K restoration of the film premiered at the Japanese Film Festival in Singapore, accompanied by a live score performed by Mark Chua and Lam Li Shuen. The UK’s BFI has given the film its Blu-ray world premiere in this collection.

"Record of a Tenement Gentleman" 「長屋紳士録」 (1947)

Tane (played by Choko Iida) is a widow living alone in a housing development in postwar Tokyo. Her neighbor, the fortune teller Tashiro (played by Chishu Ryu) unexpectedly brings a young boy named Kohei (played by Hohi Aoki), who became separated from his father and decided to follow Tashiro home. Not knowing what to do, he, Tane and another neighbor Tamekichi (played by Reikichi Kawamura) draw straws to see who would take care of the boy for the night. Tane, who admits she hates little brats is chosen, so she must take care of him for the night. After a few days of searching for the father, Tane starts to realize that having a little boy around may not be so bad after all.

“Record of a Tenement Gentleman” was Ozu’s first film since the end of World War II and his first film after a five year absence. By this time in his career, Ozu’s style of framing and composition had been set in stone. The film has minimal instances of the camera moving, characters speaking directly into the camera, the low angle shots, and truthful dialogue that is both funny and emotional. Although she is not the first person to appear on screen and is in fact the last of the main characters to appear, this is indeed a story centering on the character of Tane, the grumpy middle aged widow. Her past is never fully discussed, such as when her husband died or if she had children or not, though it may be implied that she never had any. How long she has been on her own and what her life was like before the war, if the war had anything to do with her situation is not mentioned, most likely due to the occupied forces censoring Japanese media to exclude mentions of the war or nationalism at the time. Having to suddenly take care of a young boy of about seven years old is not the ideal situation for her, and she is ready to scowl at him and brush him aside, whether he is acting bratty or not. She doesn’t even call him by his name, instead just calling him “boy”. Little Kohei is not exactly a bratty brat, being fairly quiet most of the time and just looking at the adults rather than being loudly annoying. But the silent treatment also makes Tane frustrated and uncomfortable, as does Tamekichi, who has no embarrassment saying he hates kids right in front of the child. But with Kohei's dirty behavior like collecting things off the street and wetting the futon at night, Tane is more than just annoyed at him, but also angry at the boy’s father for abandoning the child in the middle of Tokyo. As the boy doesn’t talk much and there is little that the police can do, it’s up to her to help him find his home. Their relationship during their time together is filled with humorous moments throughout. Iida does a wonderful job as Tane, bringing comedy to the role in a realistic fashion while also having dramatic moments where necessary.

The English title does come as a mystery to those who have seen the film, wondering who the “gentleman” in the title is supposed to be. This is due to a mistranslation of the title that has never been corrected. “Nagaya shinshiroku” is the Japanese title, with “Nagaya” meaning a row of homes in a singular building in a vertical construction, and “Shinshiroku” meaning a people’s directory, which has information on names, addresses and other personal information. It would literally be “A Directory of the Tenement” or “Who’s Who of the Tenement”. The translation error comes from “shinshiroku”, which is made up with the two words “shinshi” which means gentleman, and “roku” meaning a record or a directory. The characters in the film are living in poor war torn Tokyo, and it is all the more evident with the final sequence of the film which has a large group of homeless children spending their time playing, smoking, and joking around in Ueno, which was a gathering spot for the black market in the postwar period. It’s interesting to see what Ozu slipped into the film that went around the eyes of the allied forces and their censorship board. While there isn’t a direct mention about the war, it shows the effects of war with orphaned children gathered around the statue of Saigo Takamori, often called “The Last Samurai”, as well as a subtle anti-American visual cue with Kohei’s futon being dried outside looking quite similar to the American flag upside down with a pee stain on it. Ozu was not particularly political or Anti-American, as he was profoundly affected and influenced by American culture in his earlier features. But after experiencing the war by serving in the military and seeing the chaos and destruction overseas as well as the impact it had on his own country, there was a certain change in his works in the postwar era. There were the limitations of the censors, but it would lead him to continue filmmaking with a Japanese sense of mind. The works would be universal in emotional appeal, but would cater towards who the Japanese were and what made them Japanese. “Record of a Tenement Gentleman” is one of his simplest features, with a fairly small cast, a short runtime, and having a fairly predictable story. Yet it still prevails as one of his most underappreciated and the ending is a heartwarming as well as a heartbreaking one.

Hohi Aoki, who was born Tomihiro Aoki made his film debut in “Record of a Tenement Gentleman”. He was the younger half-brother of Tomio Aoki, the child actor who debuted in 1929 with two films by Yasujiro Ozu, with “The Life of an Office Worker” and in the lead in film “A Straightforward Boy” and continued to act in over 300 productions throughout his lifetime. For younger brother Hohi, he frequented the Shochiku Kamata Studios as a child to watch his older brother on set, leading to his eventual casting by Ozu in 1947. Being a little on the plump side, he was nicknamed “Bu-chan”, which was a nickname like “Little Piggy”, as “bu” is the sound of a pig's snort and “chan” is a suffix for “little”. (Though on the commentary, Jasper Sharp says “bu” is also the sound of a fart in Japanese and that may be where the nickname came from.) He would continue to appear in Ozu’s next two features, “A Hen in the Wind” in 1948 and “Late Spring” in 1949 as smaller supporting characters. He would only appear in three more films after that, with 1953’s “Kanpaku Madam” being the last. Little else is known about the former child actor. There are no formal biographies that list his date of birth (though he must have been born around 1939 or so) and no information on his adult life. His brother Tomio died in 2004 at the age of 80. If Hohi is still alive, he would be around 84 years old now.

The film opened theatrically on May 20th, 1947. It received a DVD release in Japan in November of 2003, as part of “The Yasujiro Ozu Collection Volume 3”. In the UK, it received a DVD release from Tartan in their 2-disc double feature “Ozu: Volume 2” set. In 2019, the film received its Blu-ray debut in France in Carlotta's "Ozu en 20 Films" boxset, although "Record of a Tenement Gentleman" was presented in standard definition only. In 2022, the 4K restoration of the film was first screened at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. The UK’s BFI has given the restoration its Blu-ray world premiere in this collection.

"A Hen in the Wind" 「風の中の牝鶏」 (1948)

Tokiko (played by Kinuyo Tanaka) is living in postwar Tokyo eagerly awaiting for her husband Shuichi (played by Shuji Sano) to return home after serving in the war. To make ends meet for her and their young son Hiroshi (played by Hideto Nakagawa), she sells some of her belongings and moves into a smaller place. But when Hiroshi suddenly falls ill and is hospitalized, she is unable to pay the medical expenses with her savings. She makes a painful decision, by going to a brothel and lending herself out for the night.

Ozu's next film following "Record of a Tenement Gentleman" was another look at Japan's struggles in the postwar environment. Focusing this time on a standard family of three with the wife, husband and son, the humor and follies that were seen in his previous film are replaced with a darker and more somber tone. When Tokiko's character is introduced, the landscape of Tokyo is sparse and rubble is all over the place. It is not an ideal place to raise a little child, but there was not much she or anyone else could do. Her conversation with her former coworker Akiko (played by Chieko Murata) is both friendly in nature yet sad in conversation, as they are struggling financially while waiting for Shuichi to return. Little Hiroshi doesn't even remember his father when they are reunited, signifying that Shuichi has been away at war for most of the child's life, though due to the censorship board, mentions of the war and his involvement are not at all disclosed. Instead it only mentioned "repatriation", for his homecoming from his time away serving in the miliary. As it's not mentionable, it's not clear about when the film is taking place, whether it is just after the war has ended, or in the film's setting of 1948, three years after the war in which many of the surviving men of the miliary were on duty with reconstruction both in and out of Japan. Regardless of the time, it is certain that Shuichi had seen some devastating sights in combat, and the impacts affect his life back as a civilian.

The title may sound cryptic as there are no hens or farms in the feature. There isn’t confirmation on the metaphorical meaning of the title, though there is the Japanese proverb “mendori utaeba ie horobu”, literally translated as “If the hen crows, the house will fall.” The meaning is that if a female of the household tries to take control, chaos would ensue. While it might sound like a sexist remark, it was regarding gold-digger wives that married into a family and taking control of the estate, leaving the supposedly-in-charge husband as her puppet. It’s a familiar trope of folktales as well as in real life that continues to this day. In “A Hen in the Wind”, Tokiko makes a drastic choice that ultimately scars the marriage and the family, but it is not for a power grab. Instead the hen is drifted by the uncontrollable wind, in this case the child's illness. Tokiko's choice to lend her body for one night was not an easy choice to make, and she couldn't hide the fact from Shuichi after he asked about what she did for the money. It is heartbreaking to see Tokiko telling him the truth, and what it does for their marriage is not a pretty sight. The anger that is revealed through Shuichi's physical actions are not easy to watch, and Ozu's direction doesn't turn away from the mess that the family is left in. There is an implication that Shuichi rapes her in anger, though it is shown entirely off screen. It isn't known if he was this way at all before his time in the military, but his emotional distraught and physical retaliation is certainly an effect of post traumatic stress after years on the battlefront.

Tanaka's portrayal of Tokiko is a heartbreaking one as she is pushed into a corner of shame. Throughout the performance there is little if any hope for her to feel true happiness again, and that is a reflection of many who had loved and lost in the war, with many scars to bear. Sano's performance of Shuichi can be quite frightening, though there are instances where he shows a sign of hope, such as when he visits the brothel himself and talks to Fusako (played by Chiyoko Fumiya), the 21 year old working there on her own will. Hearing her story and wanting to feel like he could help her, it's a distant cry from the compassion he shows his own wife, and a changing experience for him. It's a difficult performance, and he does a fine job with the role.

The most memorable and infamous scenes comes near the end of the film, and it is a scene that also is possibly the weakest point in the feature due to the direction it goes. During the confrontation when Tokiko falls down the steep staircase after her confrontation with Shuichi, she weakly and strugglingly climbs back up the stairs on her own and the couple embrace promising to work things through. It's most likely that the film required a positive ending, but it essentially doesn't resolve the couple's emotional bond fully, nor does it punish Shuichi for his cruel actions and reactions. If for example Tokiko's fall caused her to be hospitalized, and Shuichi had to pay off the medical bills through loans from some shady people like the yakuza, it could have had a more meaningful end to a moral tale. Even if the ending feels flawed in "A Hen in the Wind", there are a lot of strong points to the emotionally difficult story that many Japanese couples must have faced in the post war era.

In retrospect, Ozu felt that the film was not his strongest or fully realized, though it was still met with praise upon its release. Opening theatrically in Japan on September 17th, 1948, it won two awards, with Best Actress for Tanaka and Best Art Direction for Tatsuo Hamada at the Mainichi Film Concours, and was ranked seventh best film by Kinema Junpo. It may have had a smaller impact in comparison to later Ozu films, but there have been praises from filmmakers such as Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who paid homage to the film with 2008's "Tokyo Sonata" including a straight reference to the infamous staircase sequence. "A Hen in the Wind" was given a DVD release in Japan in November of 2003, as part of “The Yasujiro Ozu Collection Volume 3”. In the UK, the film was released on DVD by the BFI as a bonus feature for their release of "An Autumn Afternoon" in 2011. The 4K restoration of the film was first screened at the 2022 Venice Film Festival, and makes its worldwide Blu-ray debut in this set.

Note this is a region B Blu-ray set


The BFI presents "Dragnet Girl" in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio in 1080p AVC MPEG-4 and "Record of a Tenement Gentleman" and "A Hen in the Wind" in the 1.37:1 aspect ratio in 1080p AVC MPEG-4. All three films were restored in 4K resolution by Shochiku and IMAGICA Entertainment, with color correction supervised by famed cinematographer Masashi Chikamori.

"Dragnet Girl" was restored from a 35mm print made from a 35mm nitrate original negative, held by the National Film Archive of Japan, and restoration was completed in 2022. The black and white image has been cleaned, removing numerous examples of dust, debris, and scratches. Telecine wobble, warping, and flickering have all been reduced for a stable image. The blacks are dark and the whites are bright, though greyscale is limited, it is keeping with the look of silent Japanese films of the era. While there are a lot of positives to be seen, it does have its imperfections. Grain is visible though it has been minimized. The filmic look is slightly lost with how clean and crisp the image looks. There are also some signs of damage which were not removed in the digital restoration, though they are minimal to say the least. The opening credits have a problematic element, with the superimposed credits over the background being wobbly due to the limitations of technology at the time. For the restoration, the restorers decided to keep the names of the credits still and centered, which makes the background image wobble quite heavily. But after the opening credits end, the image quality is a revelation. As for the intertitles, which in older transfers were slightly wobbly, they have been completely stabilized by taking one clean frame and removing flicker and wobble. There is effort to making sure the intertitles are not just freeze frames that suddenly appear, and have a consistent grain structure with the rest of the film, with white lettering over a black background. In comparison to the old standard definition transfers the film has received in the past, this is absolutely a revelation.

"Record of a Tenement Gentleman" was restored from a 35mm duplicate negative, completed in 2023. The digital restoration removed various examples of dust, scratches, and other damage marks for a clean image, though there are examples of some debris and tramline marks sneaking into parts of the image at times. As at this point in his career, Ozu found his visual style by this point with still geometric shots and very limited use of tracking shots, so image stability is key. Image wobble and warping have been corrected, flicker has been reduced and looks quite clean and crisp throughout. There is an issue with sharpness though, as there are instances of the image being a bit blurry and soft. Another problematic issue is the grain management. The digital restoration has reduced the grain, and in the process it has caused an unnatural and digital look that is similar to the digital restoration of "The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice". Greyscale flickering has also been reduced but in the process has caused an unusual look with the greys seemingly fading in and out at times. The older standard definition masters had quite a bit of problematic issues that have been fixed with this restoration, though there are still some questionable issues remaining. Regardless, this is another major upgrade over previous releases of the film.

"A Hen in the Wind" was restored from a 35mm duplicate negative, completed in 2022. Likewise, the digital restoration has removed various examples of damage such as scratches and debris, stabilized the image, sharpened the image for a better experience. Like "Record of a Tenement Gentleman", the restoration is similar in its positives and its negatives. The greyscale, the stability, the clean state of the image is great, and much better than what the film looked in previous editions in standard definition. But on the other hand, the digital restoration has given the film a slightly digital look rather than a filmic one, there are some shots that are not as clear in sharpness as others, and some damage marks are still remaining. Again, it may have some drawbacks, but it is quite a step forward in comparison to what audiences have experienced with the film for many years.

The film's runtimes are as follows:
- "Dragnet Girl": 100:39
- "Record of a Tenement Gentleman": 71:28
- "A Hen in the Wind": 83:39


"Dragnet Girl":
Music DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo (score by Ed Hughes)

The score was written by Ed Hughes and performed by The Belvedere Quartet, which was recorded in 2012 for the BFI DVD release of the film. Performed with violin, viola and cello, that is fast paced and reflecting the tension between the characters and the situations. It has classical influences, and appropriately so as the record store and classical records are in a key sequence, yet it also has a modern jazzy feel to the rhythms to compliment the nightclub environments. The lossless audio track has very good stereo separation and sounds excellent throughout.

"Record of a Tenement Gentleman" / "A Hen in the Wind":
Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono (restored)
Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono (unrestored)

The two sound features come with two mono tracks in lossless form. One being restored and the other being unrestored. The audio tracks were restored from the 35mm duplicate negatives, and supervised by Kazunori Shimizu, the sound restoration supervisor for Shochiku Studios. For the restored audio, the soundtracks were filtered to remove unnecessary crackle, pops, hiss, and other problematic issues the elements had accumulated over time. While the restored tracks sound clean, there is still an underlying hiss that makes it sound like it is perpetually raining in both films when played at a high volume. In addition, dialogue does sound a bit on the flat side. For the unrestored tracks, the damage such as the pops, crackle, buzzing, and other issues are completely intact. But when comparing the restored and the unrestored audio tracks, the voices have more depth in the highs and the lows and sound clearer than the filtered version. The restored may sound cleaner, but voices sound flat and there is a slight hiss. The unrestored has better depth with the voices, but there is a lot of damage to be heard in the background. Both choices for both films have their positives and negatives and it is up to personal choice. I personally liked it better with the unrestored tracks, but to each their own.

There are optional English subtitles for all three films in a white font. For "Dragnet Girl" they translate the Japanese intertitle screens and for the sound films they translate the dialogue plus other signs and text. The subtitles are well timed, easy to read and free of spelling or grammar errors. Translation is also great, but there is one unusual instance in "A Hen in the Wind". During the scene in which Tokiko and Akiko are discussing about their kimonos, there is the line “We wore them to that picnic” but in the Japanese dialogue it is actually "We wore them in Kinugawa." Kinugawa is north of Tokyo and is famous for its hots springs, so they were talking about wearing the kimonos for a leisurely trip to the hot springs, and nothing about a picnic. It should have been translated as "We wore them at the hot springs", but the narrative isn't affected at all with the "picnic" translation.


This is a two disc set, with "Dragnet Girl" presented on DISC ONE on a 25GB Blu-ray, while "Record of a Tenement Gentleman" and "A Hen in the Wind" are presented on DISC TWO on a 50GB Blu-ray.


Audio commentary on "Dragnet Girl" by Tony Rayns (2023)
This new and exclusive commentary is another excellent one by Asian film expert Tony Rayns, who discusses about the Americanized look and feel of the feature, the influences, background on Japan at the time, visual cues such as the various tracking shots, reactions by critics, the performances, the exaggerations, and more. In addition, he talks about his dislikes for the documentaries "Kenji Mizuguchi: The Life of a Film Director" (1975) and "Tokyo Ga" (1985) with their presentations.
in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles


Audio commentary on "Record of a Tenement Gentleman" by Jasper Sharp (2023)
Japanese film expert Jasper Sharp starts with an explanation on the English title, and goes into discussion about censorship and Japanese life during the postwar era, biographical notes on the cast, connections with the cast and crew with other Ozu productions, the state of Japanese cinema at the time of its release, and much more. There is one point that he mistakenly says the title of "The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice" as “The Flavor of Green Rice Over Tea” which would be an interesting dish, but besides that one slipup, the commentary is well researched and he is well spoken as always.
in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

Audio commentary on "A Hen in the Wind" by Adrian Martin (2023)
Film critic Adrian Martin discusses the film in this well researched commentary, as he discusses about the postwar environment, the sadist and masochistic complexes of the married couple, the sound design, the rhythmic composition with the dialogue and music cues, Ozu's not so positive reaction to the film, critical quotes, and more. He immediately says that he won't be talking about the camera setups and the framing that almost every other Ozu commentary discusses about, and instead is able to talk about a variety of topics.
in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

A 28 page booklet is included with the first pressing. The first essay is on "Dragnet Girl" by the BFI's Bryony Dixon, which looks at the film's style and theme. Next is an essay on "Record of a Tenement Gentleman" by Tony Rayns with its themes and its connections to other Ozu films as well as the works of filmmaker Hiroshi Shimizu. Lastly, there is "Building from Ground Zero: A Hen in the Wind" by film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum on the difficult film's themes and overshadowed legacy. In addition, there is written information by Ed Hughes on his compositions for the three Ozu gangster films completed in 2012, plus biographies for Hughes and the members of the Belvedere String Quartet. There are also information on the commentaries, transfer information, acknowledgements, full film credits, and stills.

It's quite a bare affair on the discs with just the commentaries being the only extras available. No interviews, vintage documentaries, or others to be included. It seems that there are no trailers existing for the films either, as the Japanese DVD releases (and upcoming Blu-rays) have no trailers for the films. The UK BFI DVD release of "Dragnet Girl" included an interview with Tony Rayns that has not been ported to this Blu-ray set. In addition, it had a surviving 14 minute fragment of Ozu's "A Straightforward Boy" as a bonus. Note that in 2023 a longer version of the film with six additional minutes was discovered. It is still short of the full original 38 minute runtime, but it was a miraculous discovery nonetheless. The rediscovered 20 minute version has not been released on home video. The UK Tartan DVD of "Record of a Tenement Gentleman" has an exclusive commentary by Derek Malcolm that has not been ported to this Blu-ray set. "A Hen in the Wind" was previously released by the BFI on DVD as a bonus feature on their release of "An Autumn Afternoon". It had no extras for the film itself. Note that these 4K restorations are receiving their worldwide Blu-ray debut in this Blu-ray set, though on December 20th of this year, Shochiku will release the "5 Films of Ozu" Blu-ray boxset in Japan, which features 4K restorations of the above three films plus "I Was Born, But..." (1929) and "There Was a Father" (1942), all with English subtitles but without any extras. The 4K restoration of "There Was a Father" is significant, as it restores 5 minutes of long lost footage that was censored by the occupying allied forces after the war.

Other notable clips:

Trailer for the BFI's 2023 Ozu retrospective.

Shochiku's promo for Ozu's 120th anniversary.

An interview clip of Donald Ritchie on Ozu's universal appeal from the 1983 documentary "I Lived But...".

Mark Chua & Lam Li Shuen performing their live score for the 4K restoration premiere of "Dragnet Girl" at the 2022 Japanese Film Festival in Singapore.


"Three Films by Yasujiro Ozu" features a fascinating collection of three unique works from the master director - a Hollywood inspired silent gangster drama, a comedy drama with a lost boy and a grumpy lady, and a drama about a marriage under crisis. Each film showcases the director's evolution as a filmmaker and stories with universal appeal, and it's wonderful to have the films with 4K restorations with great informative commentary tracks for each from the BFI. While there are some issues with how the films look with their new restorations, they are major upgrades in comparison to the old standard definition masters that have been available for years on home video. Highly recommended.

Note the ratings below are an average score for all three works.

The Film: A- Video: B+ Audio: B Extras: B+ Overall: B+


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