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.
Chishu Ryu, Chieko Higashiyama, Setsuko Hara, Kyōko Kagawa, Haruko Sugimura, So Yamamura
In Japanese with English subtitles
Sunday June 18
Kōgo Noda, Yasujirō Ozu
Also in This Series
Runner up in the 2022 Sight & Sound poll of the Greatest Films of All Time (and #1 in 2012) this is Hitchcock's most personal and revealing film, a movie about male neurosis, fetishism and power, with James Stewart and Kim Novak.
Inspired by Herman Melville's Billy Budd, Claire Denis' transfixing Beau Travail is set in East Africa. Sgt Galoup (Denis Lavant) reflects on his time in the French Foreign Legion, and the impact of the handsome Sentain (Gregoire Colin).
Singin' in the Rain
The greatest movie musical ever made, Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly's sublime Hollywood on Hollywood satire is dynamic, romantic, and very funny, with some of the most memorable dance numbers ever shot - including, of course, the legendary title number.
Man with a Movie Camera
Bottomless invention and frenetic, dizzying montage make this city symphony one of cinema’s sharpest, most exciting experiences nearly a century after its release.
Ozu's most celebrated film follows an aging couple 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 for their parents, who are quickly packed off to hot springs in Osaka.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Based on Arthur C Clarke's short story The Sentinel, 2001 redefined the sci-fi genre. With its radical structure, scant dialogue and oblique narrative this was the first film to emulate the philosophical seriousness of writers like Clarke and Dick.
One of the greatest films about film ever made, Federico Fellini's 8½ (Otto e mezzo) turns one man's artistic crisis into a grand epic of the cinema.
Brunette Rita (Laura Elena Harring) wanders Mulholland Drive, dazed and confused after an auto accident. She finds refuge with Betty (Naomi Watts), an aspiring blonde actress who has arrived from Deep River, Ontario, with her innocence intact.
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".