Mizoguchi on Ozu

by being

One day, a journalist asked Mizoguchi if he liked his colleague Ozu’s films, and he replied: ‘Of course.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because I think that what he does is much more difficult and mysterious than what I do.’ (3)

It’s Mizoguchi who says: what that gentleman does with these doors is more difficult than what I’m doing. There are the doors, once again!

Mizoguchi is the director of mysteries, of secrets, while Ozu is the director of doors, or windows, of entries and exits, of marriage, of very basic things. It’s as if Mizoguchi said: I who spin mystery with all of this fog, I’m nothing next to a fellow who films doors and back streets. That, that’s much more difficult and mysterious. That’s a statement of genius. That, to me, is the greatest compliment that one director can make to another, and the most beautiful definition of documentary, of fiction, realism, and the imagination.

–  A Closed Door That Leaves Us Guessing by Pedro Costa

3. See: Round-table Talk attended by Mizoguchi and Ozu, in Masazumi Tanaka ed, Ozu on Ozu 1933-1945 (Tokyo: Tairyusha, 1987), pp. 185-186 and Hideo Tsumura’s comment in Shindo Kaneko, The Life of a Film Director: The Chronicle of Kenji Mizoguchi, (Tokyo: Eijinsha, 1975), p. 368.

ne day, a journalist asked Mizoguchi if he liked his colleague Ozu’s films, and he replied: ‘Of course.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because I think that what he does is much more difficult and mysterious than what I do.’ (3) That’s an enormous compliment because you know better than I that Mizoguchi is considered a poetic and mysterious director, and Ozu a very down to earth, very realistic director. It’s Mizoguchi who says: what that gentleman does with these doors is more difficult than what I’m doing. There are the doors, once again! It’s beautiful because Mizoguchi is the director of mysteries, of secrets, while Ozu is the director of doors, or windows, of entries and exits, of marriage, of very basic things. It’s as if Mizoguchi said: I who spin mystery with all of this fog, I’m nothing next to a fellow who films doors and back streets. That, that’s much more difficult and mysterious. That’s a statement of genius. That, to me, is the greatest compliment that one director can make to another, and the most beautiful definition of documentary, of fiction, realism, and the imagination.