Tokyo Story (1953) IMDb

Categorization

Naturalistic examination of timeless human relationships.

Subject

An old couple in Onomichi, a small city near Hiroshima, travel to Tokyo to see their children, who are all grown up. One son died in WW2, but oddly enough, his widow is kinder to the elderly visitors than their own offspring. The grandchildren are rude and the adults all work full-time jobs in an economy that’s just been revitalized by the Korean War, so nobody spends much time with the grandparents. They speak softly but don’t seem very amused by the faceless expanse of the rebuilt capital. Good intentions fail to bloom. Profound statements fail to be uttered. Something happens on the way back to Onomichi.

Commentary

Its messages and methods may seem simple and outdated, but this is possibly the greatest case ever of a filmic sum being greater than its parts. It does not leave your head and it is very relevant to modern society.

I took a common shinkansen from Hiroshima to Tokyo in 2004. It has become a 6-hour trip, as opposed to almost a full day’s journey. Ozu’s many shots of “irrelevant” scenic details are excellent as a basis for comparison with the present.

References here: The Only Son (1936), Kamichu! (2005), Still Walking (2008).

Japanese production fiction moving picture