ONLY SON, THE (HITORI MUSUKO) (1936, Japan)
directed by: Yasujiro Ozu

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IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0027752

Submitted by Matt Hauske on 2006-11-21

Matt Hauske's comment:
Ozu Yasujiro's first sound film. His cutting is still extremely regular, never radically slowing down or speeding up as we see in most Hollywood films. However, after watching four of his films, I will say that in the process of measuring this one, the moments when his editing accelerated or decelerated were all the more noticeable considering the overall regularity of his cutting. In other words, because the ASL remains so steady throughout the film, between, say, 8.5 and 9.2, the moments when the ASL increases or decreases began to stand out much more. It makes me think that for Ozu, we might need a trendline that goes higher than 12, or, alternatively, as I've written somewhere before, the measurement of his films would benefit greatly from a segmentation like what I've done with CITIZEN KANE and what Yuri has done with RASHOMON.

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Users' comments:

Author: Matt Hauske Date: 2006-11-21

In measuring this film it occurred to me that Ozu seems to work in genres of shot length. What I mean to say is that there appear to be categories of his shot length: some are less than 4.5 seconds, some are between 6 and 9, some are around 12 seconds (10-15, more broadly) and some are between 25 and 30 seconds. These categories do not necessarily correspond to shot scale or to the number of figures in a shot, or to the amount of dialogue. He could just as well have a shot with a single line of dialogue that lasts 4.4 seconds and then moves to a reverse reaction shot as he does have a single line of dialogue and then stay on the speaker for another few seconds. I don't want to make mountains out of molehills, but if we could break down the number of times he uses certain lengths of shots and where he uses them, this could provide interesting data to compare through his career and to other directors.

The longest shot in this film was almost a minute, and I was quite struck by it. It occurs after an argument between the son and mother, and at first appears to be one of Ozu's famous "pillow shots." It is an interior of one of the rooms in the son's home, I believe the nursery. It is absolutely striking because it contains no human figures and the most dominant element in it is a papered wall. On the wall is a poster of some kind, and in the room there appears to be some kind of child's playpen as well as a breast pump. At first it seems like nothing is happening, but gradually we become aware that the image is becoming brighter: over the course of the shot, night turns into day. I believe there is a similar shot in DRAGNET GIRL, but I don't think it was this pronounced.

The curve of this film is actually rather un-Ozu like in that it is much more pronounced and dynamic than his other films, even at degree 4. It is clear at trendline 1 that the overall movement is a decelerating ASL, though this is extremely gradual, from around 8.5 to about 9.7.

Author: Yuri Tsivian Date: 2006-11-22

The kind of shot Matt is referring to, sometimes called "diorama shot," occasionally appears in films of various periods and countries, but usually it is filled with some action and dialogue. Here it seems to be an image of pure time.


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