This original tittle of this Japanese film is “Tôkyô monogatari”. Tokyo Story is a simple story, modestly told, is considered one of the great classics of world cinema. Following an elderly Japanese couple – Shukishi (Chishu Ryu) and his wife Tomi (Chieko Higashiyama) as they visit their middle class children in the city, they discover that their grown-up children have no use for their presence. Indeed, the only person who seems genuinely pleased to see them is their daughter-in-law (Setsuko Hara), whose husband died during the war.
Tokyo Story charts the inevitability of change, disappointment and death with a resigned air of mute acceptance. No matter what actually happens in the story, this is a classical depiction of human fortitude and most emotionally involving dramas ever made and given its movie premise even today, it is the most stylish cinematic experience imaginable as Yasujiro Ozu always believed in the simplicity of art.
Like a Japanese Haiku poem, Tokyo Story hides great depth beneath its basic structure. Shot in the minimalist style he would become famous for- the director define a low static camera and unique use of sound. Ozu sets up each scene using a fixed camera that never moves from its starting position as the drama unfolds in front of it.
What makes Tokyo Story so great, though, is the way in which Ozu invites us to observe what’s occurring beneath the surface of the drama. Sketching the parents’ cool yet somehow touching relationship with each other, their disappointment in their offspring’s selfishness and their sense of their own ageing, Ozu discovers the pathos of everyday existence. Life for Ozu isn’t made up of grand gestures or impassioned speeches, just resigned acceptance that things have a tendency to change for the worse rather than the better. It’s a rare film that scores 100% on Rotten Tomatoes review
- Director: Yasujiro Ozu & Writer: Kôgo Noda, Yasujiro Ozu
- Cast: Chishu Ryu, Chieko Higashiyama, Setsuko Hara, Sô Yamamura, Haruko Sugimura
- Genre: Classic, Drama, World Cinema
- Length: 135 minutes
- Release: 1953