Review of An Inn in Tokyo (1935)

Moving picture, 80 minutes

Ozu Yasujirō (director).

Seen in 2017.

A sensitive depiction of the Lumpenproletariat on the home front in Japan’s early Shōwa era, with a couple of uniformed representatives of the militarist regime making small appearances. Given 40 sen for turning in a stray dog to have it killed in an anti-rabies campaign, the protagonist’s eldest son buys a peaked cap instead of a meal.

The escalation to melodrama, “saving” the protagonist’s soul, is unfortunate. So is the insistence upon a particular gasometer structure as a backdrop, in the manner of a theatrical play.

A personal note on the gasometer: When I saw this film I worked in IT at Torsgatan, Gothenburg, in view of a very similar structure from the same era. This had become operational in 1933 and decommissioned in 1993. Six months before I saw the film, the structure was demolished. Perhaps some similar drama had occurred on that backdrop, which had become symbolic of the city’s heavy-industrial past.

moving picture Japanese production fiction