INN IN TOKYO, AN (TOKYO NO YADO) (1935, Japan)
directed by: Yasujiro Ozu

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IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0027118

Submitted by Matt Hauske on 2006-11-20

Matt Hauske's comment:
The last silent film Ozu Yasujiro made that is still extant. Quite a fast film. One thing I noticed was that in certain scenes, as when the father is having an imaginary tea party with his son, the only editing that occurs is to break away to intertitles: otherwise, the scene is played out in one shot, which seems quite long. I wonder what Torey Liepa might think of this issue, and I'll invite him to respond in the comments section. I may even measure that section separately to see just how much the intertitles dynamize the editing. I saw this film on the Japanese DVDs without English subtitles, so I am a little hazy on the plot.


Name:
Image
Text
Number of shots:
752
288
Length(min):
65.32
12.34
ASL(sec):
5.2
2.6
MSL 4.1 2.5
MSL/ASL
0.79
0.97
StDev 3.4 0.9
Min 1 0.8
Max 25.3 7
CV 0.65 0.35
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Users' comments:

Author: Torey Liepa Date: 2006-11-21

Matt,

See my brief comments on Bauer's film Twilight of a Woman's Soul. The ASL for the pictorial shots was 28.9, but the overall ASL was 20.2, meaning that the intertitles severely affected the pace of editing. In this film, the titles were not generally intercut in the middle of shots as they apparently were in the Ozu film, but nevertheless they play a large role in setting the rhythm of the film. (Even if the titles are reproductions, it's fair to assume, based on trade discourse, that the "1 sec/word" rule would tend to be followed for title length.) In that film, 28.9 second pictorial shots are mixed with 8-10 second title shots - quite a different style from the picture a straight figure like 20.2 sec. ASL gives us. Certain trade commentators from the teens onward made frequent reference to the way intertitles created their own unique (and, for some, beneficial) aesthetic precisely by providing this editing rhythm. However, I think any perceived aesthetic benefits were secondary to more pragmatic origins. Particularly, there was the desire for narrative condensation, regulation and clarification, as well as the general movement of uplift and, sometimes, censorship of pictorial material - all of which could be provided by intertitles. Of course, for many they were just annoying interruptions.

Your point raises an important issue, though, I think, in terms of recognizing that often sequences of film that appear as several shots were often taken in fewer takes than the film presents (Shot-reverse shot, for example). Intertitles, as non-pictorial material, make this interruption more evident. Different logics of intercutting create entirely different styles of representation. This is why 'proper' intertitle placement was negotiated throughout the early- to mid-teens before settling on an industry standard (the moment of speech, for dialogue) I wouldn't be surprised, however, if non-Hollywood directors like Ozu try different methods.

Author: Yuri Tsivian Date: 2006-11-22

The practice of staging a long scene (usually using a long shot scale) and then cutting it down with dialog intertitles was quite widespread in European cinema in the 1910s. I have observed this in Bauer, and in the 1913 Ma lamor mia non muore! by Caserini. When intertitles are missing, this presents a hard dilemma for the restorer: clearly there are crosses that mark the title positions but the complexity of staging and the duration of the shot are so beautiful that one is tempted to forget about the dialog and let the shot last. Of course, from the Cinemetrics point of view this is misleading, and particularly when we are talking about Ozu for whom fast in this period was more important than slow.


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