Tokyo Story (1953)

Tokyo Story is the Yasujiro Ozu masterpiece which is oft considered the best film of all time and is a part of the Noriko trilogy as it tells a story that features a character named Noriko played by the same actress and I think that’s it. Tokyo Story in 2012 rose to the top of the Sight and Sound director’s poll and placed 3rd with the critics. Sight & Sound’s polls are regarded as the best as it take a international group of film professionals and they do it every decade.  Spoilers to follow.

Tokyo Story is about a retired couple, Shukichi and Tomi Hirayama, who live in Onomichi, in the South of Japan, with their youngest unmarried daughter, Kyoko. Shukichi and Tomi travel north to Tokyo to visit their other children and widowed daughter in law, Koichi, Shige and Noriko. Koichi is a doctor and has two sons, Shige is a hairdresser and runs a business out of their house. They both are more concerned with their own lives to care that their parents have come to visit. Only Noriko  makes any effort to entertain them when they visit. Koichi and Shige decide that sending Mother and Father to a hot spring would be something that they would enjoy, but it’s not relaxing and they come back early to the dismay of the children. As the films say “As children get older, they drift away from their parents” this is true but it’s sad that this happens.

It’s an interesting movie and a huge change from most film as it’s an intimate look at a family nothing rather remarkable happens in the film. However although it’s set in the 50s in Japan the story it seems could be set anywhere at anytime. The biggest difference between this and other films is that the film is  slow paced but that is common with other Ozu films. It’s a film with a message that children need to honor their parents while they are alive since when they are gone you can’t do anything. From this I think it speaks to a larger issue that the elderly are often pushed aside and we forget about them, however they are still apart of the world although the world doesn’t recognize them. Pope Francis has spoken of the need for family and the importance of the elderly numerous time .


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