A Closer Look


Kathe Geist

ISBN : 978-988-8754-17-5

Film, Media, Fine Arts

June 2022

300 pages, 6″ x 9″, 29 b&w and 7 color illus.

  • HK$700.00

Based on a close reading of Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu’s extant films, this book provides insights into the ways the director created narrative structures and used symbolism to construct meaning in his films. Against critics’ insistence that Ozu was indifferent to plot and unlikely to use symbols, Geist demonstrates otherwise, revealing the director’s subtle iconographic paradigms. Her incisive understanding of the historical and cultural context in which the films were conceived amplifies her analysis of the films’ structure and meaning. 

Ozu: A Closer Look guides the reader through Ozu’s early, silent films and his sound films made during Japan’s wars in Asia and the subsequent American Occupation, then takes up specific themes relevant to his later, better-known films. These themes include religion, gender, and the influence of traditional Japanese painting. Geist also examines the impact that Ozu’s films had on specific directors in Europe, America, and Japan. 

Intended for film scholars, students, and fans of the director, this book provides fresh insights into the director’s films and new challenges for those who study him. 

Kathe Geist, trained as an art historian, has taught and published widely on Ozu and East Asian cinema over multiple decades. She is also author of The Cinema of Wim Wenders: From Paris, France to Paris, Texas (1988).

“Kathe Geist has woven an elegantly textured tapestry in this illuminating survey of Ozu’s films and their endless sense of pattern, rhythm, and cultural renewal. Melding form, narrative, iconography, and context, the book traces old and new patterns of meaning and critical debate.”Alastair Phillips, University of Warwick; author of the BFI Film Classic on Tokyo Story (2022)

Ozu: A Closer Look provides one of the most comprehensive and meticulous analyses so far on Ozu Yasujiro. With her great attention to small textual details, along with intertextual and contextual comparisons, Geist achieves a significant reinterpretation of the director’s work, opening up new possibilities in future Ozu studies.”—Woojeong Joo, Nagoya University; author of The Cinema of Ozu Yasujiro: Histories of the Everyday

Reviews and Interviews

Greenfield Recorder (November 2022)

Charlemont resident studies renowned Japanese film director

New Books Network / New Books in Film Podcast Episode (December 2022)

Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema (October 2023)

Book Review: Ozu, Tokyo Story, Chasing Ozu