Cinema, thought, immanence: contemplating signs and empty spaces in the films of Ozu

Andrew C Lapworth

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In his two-volume study of the cinema, Deleuze develops a novel conception of film in terms of its relation to the intensive becomings of thought. Great directors, for Deleuze, are those who invent images that stage disruptions to the habits of ordinary perception, forcing us to think and feel differently. It is precisely in terms of the production of a different style of cinematic thinking that we might frame encounters with the films of director Ozu Yasujiro¯ , who I argue inaugurates a cinema in which contemplation replaces the primacy and certainties of action. Following Deleuze’s ([1968] 2004) rethinking of ‘contemplation’ as immanent event rather than subjective transcendence, I explore how Ozu’s cinema generates transformative modes of thinking the city, uncoupling urban spaces from the requirements of dramatic action such that they become expressive sites of indeterminate signs and affects. By dramatizing these immanent thresholds of affective and spatial becomings, I argue Ozu’s contemplative cinema directs us towards new possible openings of thought to a politics of the virtual.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-31
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Urban Cultural Studies
Issue number1
Early online date1 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2016


  • Gilles Deleuze
  • Yasujiro Ozu
  • cinema
  • contemplation
  • signs
  • Affect

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