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Tokyo Story

Film/Video

Images courtesy of Janus Films

Tokyo Story

Yasujiro Ozu, 1953

Film History 101

As our film heritage becomes more and more digitized, it is harder and harder for audiences to see important films in the manner in which they were originally meant to be presented: in a theater, on film, with an audience. Film History 101 is our modest attempt to keep this tradition alive. Once a month, we'll present a selection that transcends "classic" status to that of "essential"—films that are widely recognized as among the greatest the art of moving pictures has to offer.

Tue, June 21, 2011 7 PM

Ozu's Tokyo Story is regularly cited as one of the greatest films ever made.

This quiet film tells a devastating story of an aging couple's trip to Tokyo to visit their children, only to be neglected by their self-absorbed offspring. One of the most poignant films about growing old, the story is inspired in part by Leo McCarey's Make Way for Tomorrow (1937). (136 mins., 35mm)

Yasujiro Ozu (1903-1963) began working in the silent era and directed over fifty films in his career. He is best known for the series of bittersweet family dramas he made between the late 1940s and his death. These films, including Tokyo Story, carefully observed the cultural conflicts and transitions the urban middle class experienced in postwar Japan, as traditions that had endured for centuries collided with the changing expectations of the fast-developing modern era. In these films Ozu typically used long, still shots, often from a low perspective, as if filmed from the viewpoint of someone kneeling or seated on a Japanese tatami mat. More interested in characters than in plot or action, he also frequently skipped over what another director might treat as major events, concentrating instead of scenes of everyday life that come alive with subtle humor, unexpected beauty, and believably deep emotions.

Ozu’s work is much admired by other filmmakers, including Wim Wenders, Hou Hsiao-hsien, and Abbas Kiarostami, his predecessor in the Film History 101 series.

Cosponsored by Ohio State's East Asian Studies Center.