"If there were something like a sacred treasure of the cinema, then for me that would have to be the work of the Japanese director Yasujirô Ozu… For me never before and never again since has the cinema been so close to its essence and its purpose: to present an image of man in our century, a usable, true and valid image in which he not only recognises himself, but from which, above all, he may learn about himself."
The director of Tokyo Story, voted no. 1 in the BFI poll of directors' ten greatest films of all time, Ozu is a giant of Japanese cinema. Specialising in seemingly simple stories of lower-middle-class Japanese family life, Ozu forged his own brand of delicately observed, serenely paced character study which catalogued wider social tides through the everyday. However the elegent structuring of his films should not mask his innovation. From his low, static camera angles to his unusual framing of characters, Ozu was a rule-breaker too. He just made it look effortless.
Here, Thom Andersen goes into more depth about Ozu's mastery of time.