Yasujiro Ozu’s films were like the changing of the seasons—examinations of life’s basic struggles, eternally evolving through birth and death, childhood and adulthood, tradition and modernity. Void of American melodrama and brimming with mono no aware, Ozu’s oeuvre, more than any other filmmaker, captured life at its most poetic.

A director’s purpose isn’t to convey messages in words, but as Stanley Kubrick once remarked, to “…[bypass] verbalized pigeonholing and directly [penetrate] the subconscious with an emotional and philosophic content.” Ozu’s films came to us politely, like a servant, filled with simple stories that seemed to tell themselves, but when they broke our hearts they were like reading the last line of an epic novel.

It only seems fitting that today we not only wish Ozu a happy birthday, but we also commemorate him on the anniversary of his death.

Justin Alvarez

José Castrellón is a Panamanian photographer who identifies with cultural changes and the impact they have on different places. For more of his work, including Priti Baiks, check out his website. Justin Alvarez is an editorial assistant at Guernica. Read more about him here.

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