and White . 144 minutes
Shochiku Ofuna Studio
Ryu Chishu (Hirayama Shukichi)
Higashiyama Chieko (Tomi)
Hara Setsuko (Noriko)
Sugimura Haruko (Kaneko Shige)
Nakamura Nobuo (Kaneko)
Yamamura So (Koichi)
Mijake Kuniko (Ayako)
Kagawa Kyoko (Kyoko)
Tono Eijiro (Numata Sanpei)
Osaka Shiro (Keizo)
Murase Zen (Minoru)
Mori Mitsuhiro (Isamu)
The elderly Hirayama Shukichi and his wife Tomi
leave Onomichi to visit their children in Tokyo.
Their son Koichi and his wife soon tire of them
and send them to stay with their daughter Shige.
Shige packs them off to a hot spring in Atami.
However, the resort is full of boisterous guests
and the Hirayamas cannot relax. So they return
to Tokyo to find somewhere to spend the night.
The only person who shows them kindness and hospitality
is their daughter-in-law Noriko, whose husband
(their son) has gone missing during the war. On
their way back, Tomi falls ill and shortly after
they return to Onomichi, she passes away.
Thoughts from Ozu
I tried to represent the collapse of the Japanese
family system through showing children growing
up. The melodramatic element in Tokyo Story
is one of the strongest in my works.
46th film, shot from July to October 1953. Many
titles of Ozu's films include the word "Tokyo",
or intended to do so. All these films are based
on an original screenplay, proving Ozu's extraordinary
attachment to his native city, which no other
director had. The plot is said to be taken from
Leo McCarey's Make Way For Tomorrow (1937),
that Noda had seen before the war. However, Ozu
did not see it, and at the utmost, it was a hint.
It seems possible that Ozu and Noda had remodeled
a scenario they wanted to do before The Flavor
of Green Tea Over Rice, which deals with a
mother and her five children, set in the countryside.
The children (the eldest son and his family, the
eldest daughter and her husband, and the widow
of the second son, who dies in the war) live in
Tokyo, but their respective living surroundings
do not have a special meaning. The son's clinic,
the daughter's hairdressing salon have the atmosphere
of the eastern parts and the outskirts of Tokyo,
of shitamachi, but this is rather a dramaturgical
figure. Also Onomichi (where the parents live)
could be anywhere. The only condition for the
formation of the story is being outside Tokyo.
This relation between parents (countryside) and
children (Tokyo) repeats the pattern of The
Only Son. Moreover, the film carefully depicts
the characters and the surroundings of many people,
and has a strong persuasive power. This film is
often regarded as the final settlement of all
accounts of the Tokyo of Ozu Yasujiro, suitable
to its title, and considered as Ozu's most representative
work. As in The Only Son, the parents of
Tokyo Story are not satisfied with their
children's Tokyo. However, the dramatic tension
and the confrontation between mother and son in
The Only Son sink into the interior. They
are softened by resignation and tolerance, and
are confirmed and accepted. This change from seeking,
to a conscious attitude, is probably due to the
fact that Ozu had changed his point of view from
the children's one to the parents' one, achieving
maturity and harmony with the world, according
to his own age. Ozu depicted the feast in his
film as a transition of time. Of course, Ozu understands
the meaning of the feast as change, that is, as
transience. The morning after the loss of his
wife, the old father Shukichi says: "That
was a beautiful daybreak today," and "Today
is going to be hot again." These lines were
often discussed and interrupted. However, they
should rather be considered as stock expressions.
Thoughts and Comments
Widely considered among the greatest films in
the history of Japanese cinema, Ozu's 1953 Tokyo
Story stands as a true masterpiece of filmmaking.
Tokyo Story is a reflective film about
morals, selfishness, and youth's treatment (or
mistreatment) of the elderly. But it's also a
deeply moving love story, while never being manipulative
or over-sentimental as Ozu achieves the most moving
emotions through his trademark simplistic style.
The film's final moments and images represent
the power of love, and the need for human connection
in a way that is unforgettably sad - captured
through Ozu's masterful cinematic language and
of course Setsuko Hara's stunning performance.
Every single shot is beautifully and expressively
composed and Tokyo Story may feature Ozu's
most prominent use of his defining "pillow
shots". At the core this is a film of the
inevitability of lifes progression. This is expressed
in both the changes of a postwar Japanese society
and more specifically of the family. By presenting
these daily life cycles and changes through generations
of a family, Ozu has created a film that is widely
universal. Ultimately the film poetically captures
this in the end as the family has been destroyed
and we come back full circle to where it began.
Tokyo Story is one of the most moving films
ever made. It understandings and complexities
of human emotion and behavior is flawless and
under the minimalist direction of Ozu's style
as well as the superb performances by his cast,
Tokyo Story emerges as one of the truly
great film achievements in the history of world
cinema. A classic film to cherish and to revisit.