Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tokyo Story

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1963 of Yasujiro Ozu, a noted Japanese film director. To honor his memory we watched Tokyo Story, the first film we've seen by him. This film is #57 on's list of top 100 spiritually significant films. It is also on Time's list of top 100 movies. It is on the most recent top-10 list from the BFI, as well as their last list.

We have the Criterion edition of this film but did not watch any of the special features -just the film itself. Here is the Criterion trailer:

"As long as life goes on relationships between parents and children will bring boundless joy and endless grief."

Guardian Unlimited has a review. Roger Ebert's review is here. He begins his review with these spoiler-ridden words:

No story could be simpler. An old couple come to the city to visit their children and grandchildren. Their children are busy, and the old people upset their routines. In a quiet way, without anyone admitting it, the visit goes badly. The parents return home. A few days later, the grandmother dies. Now it is the turn of the children to make a journey.

From these few elements Yasujiro Ozu made one of the greatest films of all time. "Tokyo Story" (1953) lacks sentimental triggers and contrived emotion; it looks away from moments a lesser movie would have exploited. It doesn't want to force our emotions, but to share its understanding. It does this so well that I am near tears in the last 30 minutes. It ennobles the cinema.

And I think these words capture my emotional response to the movie. It is such a quiet, calm film and yet it has great power to move. Or at least I thought so. The Younger Son was more confused by it than moved, and he prefers Kurosawa's Ikiru, which he said he would gladly watch again with me. He passed on the opportunity to watch this one again sometime.

1001 Flicks has a review.

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