Sometimes the simplest things in life are also the most profound. Such was the philosophy of Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu, who dedicated himself to examining family relationships in almost all of his 50 films. Although generational conflict is his most obsessive theme, Ozu’s scenarios shy away from melodrama to focus on mundane patterns of behaviour. And it’s in these delicately observed patterns that we recognize ourselves.
Tokyo Story follows an aging couple (played by Chishu Ryu and Chieko Higashiyama) as they come to the city and make the rounds of their now grown children. Busy with their own lives, the children have little time or patience for their parents, who are quickly packed off to hot springs in Osaka. Then the mother, Tomi, falls ill…
The world is a better place for Ozu’s quiet, contemplative compassion, and Tokyo Story is the best introduction to his work. The most celebrated film from Japan’s most poignant domestic filmmaker, and an influence on everyone from Claire Denis to Doris Dorrie and Wim Wenders, 1953’s Tokyo Story is a regular fixture in lists of the best films ever made and came in fourth in the latest iteration of Sight and Sound’s poll.
Sunday’s screening in our PANTHEON series will feature free refreshments and a short introduction by an expert in the field.
Introduced by Su-Anne Yeo, who researches and teaches in the areas of film studies, media studies, and cultural studies, with a specialization in Asian and Asian diasporic screen cultures at UBC and Emily Carr.
Chishu Ryu, Chieko Higashiyama, Setsuko Hara, Kyōko Kagawa, Haruko Sugimura, So Yamamura
In Japanese with English subtitles
Kōgo Noda, Yasujirō Ozu
Also in This Series
In the Mood for Love
Wong Kar-wai's most popular film is a love story about two neighbours (Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung) who are drawn together by the long absences of their respective spouses.
In Abbas Kiarostami's self-reflexive non-fiction narrative feature, Sabzian, an illiterate film buff who passed himself off as the Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf plays himself in reconstructions of his fraud.
Orson Welles's debut was the most sophisticated movie to come out of the Hollywood studio system to that time, and opened up the creative possibilities of the narrative feature film for generations. For nearly 50 years it was "the best ever made".