The Eternal Virgin

Video essays that focus on film or television use the same medium as the object of their study (an audiovisual montage). But most video essays examine their subject using a strategy different to the one the subject itself uses. Often they wield an academic scalpel and carefully dissect a movie using strict reasoning. Or they opt for a more poetic approach, trying to get at the essence of a film by waxing lyrical about its inscrutable qualities. This video essay however takes another approach.


The Eternal Virgin is a study of Setsuko Hara, the favorite actress of Yasujirō Ozu, produced for MUBI. The video tries to convey the way in which Setsuko Hara was both an emblem and an architect of Ozu’s distinctive poetics. To do so, video essayist Jorge Suárez-Quiñones Rivas decided to use Ozu’s own rigorous filmmaking practice as a guide for his own examination. His essay is composed of “exactly the 71 shots from Ozu Yasujirō’s films where the actress Hara Setsuko is absolutely alone in an indoor space during the complete length of the shot”, and each of these shots was used in full. Their order in the essay however was dictated more by momentum then by chronology, and less by rationality than by rhythm. The result is a mesmerizing, almost hypnotic video essay that hones in on Ozu’s use of space and time, on his disregard of traditional continuity and on the formal and aesthetic coherence of his work. Because of its formal rigor, in a way this is a video essay on Ozu, by Ozu.