Tokyo Story

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Virtually unseen in the West for a decade after its initial release in Japan in 1953, Tokyo Story has since become recognized as Yasujirô Ozu’s masterpiece and among the greatest films ever made, having appeared three times on Sight and Sound’s once-a-decade list of the best films of all-time. The film follows an aging couple, Tomi and Sukichi, on their journey from their rural village to visit their two married children in bustling, postwar Tokyo. Their reception is disappointing: too busy to entertain them, their children send them off to a health spa. After Tomi falls ill, she and Sukichi return home, while the children, grief-stricken, hasten to be with her. From this deceptively simple tale unfolds one of the most powerfully moving of all Japanese films. Starring Ozu regulars Chishu Ryu (Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice) and Setsuko Hara (Late Spring), the film reprises one of the director’s favorite themes—that of generational conflict—in a way that is quintessentially Japanese and yet so universal in its appeal that it continues to resonate as one of cinema’s greatest achievements. Ozu, a master of controlled minimalism and acute observation, has had a profound influence on arthouse cinema throughout the years, with numerous filmmakers, including Paul Schrader, Jim Jarmusch and Aki Kaurismaki, all claiming to be inspired by his timeless work. (Dir. by Yasujirô Ozu, 1953, Japan, in Japanese with English subtitles, 136 min., Not Rated) 35mm