Tokyo Story

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Tokyo Story
Tokyo Story poster.jpg
Japanese theatrical release poster
Directed byYasujirō Ozu
Produced byTakeshi Yamamoto
Written byKōgo Noda
Yasujirō Ozu
StarringChishu Ryu
Chieko Higashiyama
Setsuko Hara
Music byKojun Saitō
CinematographyAtsuta Yuharu
Editing byYoshiyasu Hamamura
StudioShochiku
Release dates
  • November 3, 1953 (1953-11-03)
Running time136 minutes
CountryJapan
LanguageJapanese
 
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Tokyo Story
Tokyo Story poster.jpg
Japanese theatrical release poster
Directed byYasujirō Ozu
Produced byTakeshi Yamamoto
Written byKōgo Noda
Yasujirō Ozu
StarringChishu Ryu
Chieko Higashiyama
Setsuko Hara
Music byKojun Saitō
CinematographyAtsuta Yuharu
Editing byYoshiyasu Hamamura
StudioShochiku
Release dates
  • November 3, 1953 (1953-11-03)
Running time136 minutes
CountryJapan
LanguageJapanese

Tokyo Story (東京物語 Tōkyō Monogatari?) is a 1953 Japanese film directed by Yasujirō Ozu. It tells the story of an aging couple who travel to Tokyo to visit their grown children. The film contrasts the behavior of their children, who are too busy to pay them much attention, and their widowed daughter-in-law, who treats them with kindness. It is often regarded as Ozu's masterpiece, and has appeared several times in the British Film Institute lists of the greatest films ever made.

It was inspired by the American film Make Way for Tomorrow (1937).[1]

Plot[edit]

A retired couple, Shukichi and Tomi Hirayama (played by Chishu Ryu and Chieko Higashiyama respectively) live in the town of Onomichi in southwest Japan with their unmarried youngest daughter Kyoko (played by Kyoko Kagawa). They have a total of 5 children, who are all grown up. The couple travel to Tokyo to visit their son and daughter and daughter-in-law.

Their eldest son, Koichi (So Yamamura), is a pediatrician married to Fumiko. They have two sons, Minoru and Isamu. Their eldest daughter, Shige (Haruko Sugimura), is married to Kuzaro. Shige runs a hairdressing salon. Koichi and Shige are both busy with work and their families, and do not have much time for their parents. Only the couple's widowed daughter-in-law, Noriko (Setsuko Hara), goes out of her way to entertain them. She takes Shukichi and Tomi on a sightseeing tour of metropolitan Tokyo.

Koichi and Shige pay for their parents' stay at a hot spring spa at Atami, but the parents return early because the nightlife at the hotel interrupts their sleep. When they return, Shige explains that she sent them to Atami because she wanted to use their bedroom for a meeting. Tomi goes to stay with Noriko, whose husband, Shogi, died eight years ago in the war. Tomi advises Noriko to remarry. Shukichi, meanwhile, gets drunk with some old friends, then returns to Shige's salon.

The couple remark on how their children have changed, and they leave for home. During the journey Tomi is taken ill, and they make an unplanned stop at Osaka, where they had planned to meet their youngest son, Keizo (Shiro Osaka), without dismounting from the train. When they reach Onomichi, Tomi becomes critically ill. Koichi, Shige and Noriko rush to Onomichi, on receiving telegrams, to see Tomi, who dies shortly afterwards. Keizo arrives late as he is outstationed.

After the funeral, Koichi, Shige and Keizo decide to leave immediately, with only Noriko not returning. After they leave, Kyoko complains to Noriko that they are selfish and inconsiderate. Noriko responds that everyone has their own life to lead and that the drift between parents and children is inevitable.

After Kyoko leaves for school, Noriko informs her father-in-law that she must return to Tokyo that afternoon. Shukichi tells her that she has treated them best despite not being related by blood. Noriko insists on her own selfishness; Shukichi credits her protests to humility. He gives her a watch from the late Tomi as a memento, and advises her to remarry. Noriko breaks down in tears and confesses her loneliness. At the end, the train with Noriko speeds from Onomichi back to Tokyo, leaving behind Kyoko and Shukichi.

Hirayama Family Tree[edit]

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Ozu (far right) on set during shooting.

The script was developed by Yasujirō Ozu and his long-time collaborator Kōgo Noda over a period of 103 days in a country inn in Chigasaki. The two, together with cinematographer Yuharu Atsuta, then scouted locations in Tokyo and Onomichi for another month before shooting started. Shooting and editing the film took place from July to October 1953. Ozu used the same film crew and actors he had worked with for many years.[2]

Reception[edit]

Tokyo Story has appeared several times in The British Film Institute polls of "greatest films" of directors and critics published in Sight & Sound. On the critics' poll, it was third in 1992, fifth in 2002, and third again in 2012. On the director's poll, it was 17th in 1992, tied at number 16 with Psycho and The Mirror in 2002, and in 2012 it topped the poll, receiving 48 votes out of the 358 directors polled.[3][4][5][6]

It holds a 100% "Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 38 critical reviews, with also the highest average critical score on the website at 9.7/10.[7] John Walker, former editor of the Halliwell's Film Guides, places Tokyo Story at the top of his published list of the best 1000 films ever made. Tokyo Story is also included in film critic Derek Malcolm's The Century of Films,[8][9] a list of films which he deems artistically or culturally important, and Time magazine lists it among its All-Time 100 Movies. Roger Ebert includes it in his series of great movies,[10] and Paul Schrader placed it in the "Gold" section of his Film Canon.[11]

Influence[edit]

"Tokyo Story" was the inspiration for Dorris Dorrie's s 2008 film "Cherry Blossoms." In it the family is German but essentially the same as the Japanese original.[citation needed]

In 2013 Yoji Yamada made a remake under the title Tokyo Kazoku

Style[edit]

Like all of Ozu's sound films, Tokyo Story's pacing is slow.[12] Important events are often not shown on screen, only being revealed later through dialogue. For example, the train journeys to and from Tokyo are not depicted.[13] A distinctive camera style is used, in which the camera height is low and almost never moves; film critic Roger Ebert notes that the camera moves once in the film, which is "more than usual" for an Ozu film.[10]

Release[edit]

Tokyo Story was released on November 3, 1953 in Japan.

Home media[edit]

The film was restored and released on DVD by The Criterion Collection as a two-disc DVD set (Region 1) and by Tartan Video in Region 2. In 2010, the BFI released a Region 2 Dual Format Edition (Blu-ray + DVD).[14] Included with this release is a standard definition presentation of Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Tokyo Story)". TCM. Retrieved May 30, 2011. 
  2. ^ Eleftheriotis, Dimitris; Gary Needham (May 2006). Asian cinemas: a reader and guide. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 17–26. ISBN 978-0-8248-3085-4. 
  3. ^ "Top Ten Poll 1992 - Directors' and Critics' Poll". Sight & Sound. Published by British Film Institute. Retrieved October 29, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Top Ten Poll 2002 - Directors' Poll". Sight & Sound. Published by British Film Institute. Retrieved October 29, 2010. 
  5. ^ "The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time". Published by British Film Institute. 1 August 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "The 2012 Sight & Sound Directors’ Top Ten". Sight & Sound. British Film Institute. 2 August 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  7. ^ Rotten Tomatoes - Tokyo Story
  8. ^ Malcolm, Derek (4 May 2000). "Yasujiro Ozu: Tokyo Story". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  9. ^ Malcolm, Derek (2000). A Century of Film. IB Tauris. pp. 85–87. 
  10. ^ a b Ebert, Roger. "Tokyo Story Movie Review & Film Summary (1953)". Retrieved 6 August 2012. 
  11. ^ Jeffrey M. Anderson (14 November 2006). "Paul Schrader's Film Canon, Film Comment - September/October 2006". 
  12. ^ David Bordwell; Kristin Thompson (2003). Film History: An Introduction (2nd ed.). McGraw-Hill. p. 396. 
  13. ^ David Desser (2005). "The Space of Ambivalence". In Jeffrey Geiger. Film Analysis. Norton. pp. 462–3. 
  14. ^ "Tokyo Story: Dual Format Edition". Retrieved 2 August 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]