Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story (Tokyo Monogatari) follows an aging couple, Tomi and Sukichi, on their journey from their rural village to visit their two married children in bustling, post-war Tokyo. Their reception, however, ... more »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 a simple tale unfolds one of the greatest of all Japanese films. Starring Ozu regulars Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara, 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 masterpieces.« less
Yvonne Campbell | Cape Canaveral, FL United States | 01/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ozu's "Tokyo Story" is simply the most emotionally profound film I have ever seen. It is the sort of film that, after seeing it, may easily change you. I originally purchased the film because I was incredibly interested in the "Ozu style". There are many aspects of this little Japanese man's style, including shots of nature to break up the story, the tatami mat camera angle, the unmoving camera, and the shooting of characters speaking directly into the camera (which makes it all the more profound, it puts the viewer into the story). Ozu scarcely EVER drifted from this style, therefore it MUST have been quite incredible, for he never had the desire to change it. However, although I was compelled by the extremely elegant filmmaking style, it was the emotional impact that sticks with me the most. The story felt very slow as it unwound, with much of the dialogue feeling very small talk-ish. However, despite the fact I was initially disappointed by this small talk-like dialogue, by the end, I realized this slowness of developement made the end all the more powerful. This ending was so powerful that I was completely in tears for the final half hour or so of the film. This film was SO profound that I felt moved upon viewing it. Near the end of the picture, when one of the daughters stated "Life is too short." I was moved. I felt compelled to go out and live it up, for life IS too short. I also realized that I need to be much kinder to my parents, for they give me so much, and they will not be around forever. As is said in one of the more famous and compelling lines from the film, "One cannot serve his parents from beyond the grave".You will be moved beyond words by one of the greatest films of all time, Yasujiro Ozu's "Tokyo Story""
Are you kind to your parents?
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 06/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like many of Ozu's films, "Tokyo Story" ("Tokyo Monogatari") examines a very simple stage in life, one that I hope most of us will be lucky enough to encounter at some time or another. In this case, it is how we treat our parents once we no longer need them for survival. Are they a bother? Do we resent their old-fashioned ways and slower pace? Are we perhaps a bit too eager to shuffle them to the sidelines?The story seems so simple, an elderly couple leaves the country to visit their children who have moved away to Tokyo. Country folk meet city folk, age meets youth, life meets death. There are no big blow-ups, no crisis points reached or contrived dramas, just life flowing along as it does. In Ozu's gentle hands, the entire story is told between the lines, with perhaps not a single sentence of direct dialog spoken in the film. Under the calm surface is an ocean of depth, emotions flowing with an unstoppable power, yet never able to breach the veneer of etiquette and politeness.Ozu's usual cast in at their best. Chishu Ryu plays the father perfectly, flawed and kind, strict in his youth yet lenient in his old age, he is a father-figure more than a father to his impatient children. Chieko Higashiyama plays the kind and appreciative mother, much the same character as in "Early Summer." As always, Setsuko Hara, Japan's "Eternal Virgin," brings light and love into an otherwise dismal story playing Noriko, the widowed Daughter-in-law of Ryu and Higashiyama's son. Setsuko is ironically the only one of their children to appreciate the aged parents, even though she is not a blood-child."Tokyo Story" forced me to examine my own treatment of my parents, and consider how I will be treated when it is my time to visit my children. Will they dread my coming? Am I kind to my parents? That is the kind of power this film has.Of course, the Criterion Collection presentation is wonderful, with one of the best transfers of "Tokyo Story" I have seen. It is far from flawless, but vastly superior to my old VHS copy. The extra documentaries are delightful, and offer some insight into Ozu that in turn offers insight into his wonderful films."
"None can serve his parents beyond the grave"
Jay Dickson | Portland, OR | 07/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Often voted one of the greatest films of all time, Yasujiro Ozu's most famous film (made in 1953, but not released in the US until years later) follows an elderly couple as they leave their seaside town where they live with their youngest daughter, Kyoko, to visit their two eldest surviving children, Shige and Koichi, in Tokyo, stopping to meet their youngest son, Keizo, in Osaka along the way. Although their children seem to mean well, they are greatly inconvenienced by their parents' visit and do not take time off from work to show them around the city, instead asking their widowed sister-in-law Noriko to squire them about instead; Koichi's young sons treat his grandparents with sullen rudeness. Finally, Shige and Koichi dump their parents off at a hot springs resort not far from Tokyo, where the elderly couple feel out of place. On their return by train home, the mother becomes mortally ill, and the grief-stricken children and Noriko must come bury their mother and must face up to or ignore their previous treatment of her and their father.
Ozu considered his film a melodrama because it dealt more straightforwardly with life's tragedies and with grief than his other family dramas from his famed later period do. The film suggests a fairy tale, or King Lear, in that we, like the elderly couple, are positioned to judge the children and Noriko according to who is least and most filial; yet Ozu requires we see the selfishness of the children and the neglect of the parents in more complex terms. (Though this seems beyond the DVD's commentator, David Desser, whose intelligent technical shot-by-shot analysis of the film seems seriously marred by his willingness to engage in simplistic moral judgements of the characters.) Certainly the film is a commentary on human selfishness and the dangers of familial dispersal in an era of alienating modernity after the second World War (when Tokyo, the film's locus for modernity, has been rebuilt almost from the ground up). Yet the film celebrates the new Tokyo as much as it condemns it, and the couple admits to themselves that though their children are not as nice as they remembered, they are happy they are busy and can care for themselves. And the most selfless member of the younger generation Noriko (played by the great Japanese actress Setsuko Hara) points out to the stay-at-home Kyoko that while her siblings appear selfish they have their own lives to lead now that they are in middle age and their own families to care for. And Shige, who seems the most monstrously selfish and hypocritical of the children, seems to have some reasons for resenting her parents: some ridiculous (being embarrassed by her mother's weight as a child when she broke a chair she was sitting in), and others more pointed (her father's tendency to drink heavily before the birth of Kyoko). Ozu is too intelligent and humane to cast this story in terms fo Manichaean opposities; indeed, just as he seems at times to deplore Tokyo's sprawl and industrial quality, he also has the parents and Nariko take a guided bus tour of the city and shows off the city's ability to have bounced back after its Allied war bombing. One of the greatest pleasures of the film are its superb framed compositions, especially in his transitional sequences where he shows us empty rooms, as if to emphasize the transitory nature of human life and family affairs."
As poignant and as beautiful as you have heard, and then som
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 07/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this film when I was really young. I was told that it's a classic, and while I was respectful in my opinion about it, I never really got it. Having aged a bit, and opening my eyes even more to the world, I saw this film again, and then it hit me on how powerful, sad, and truthful it really is. It's done with so much real emotion, sadness, and subtlety that it doesn't really hit you until the film is over. Even thinking about it now makes me sad because it's filled with truth, that truth you know exists and can't get away from. You see what the children do with their parents, and you say to yourself "I won't do that", but you end up doing it anyway, not because you're an evil person, but because it's just time in the cycle of life for that to happen. Ozu was as great as any of the auteurs, like Kurosawa and Mizoguchi. It was such a shame that he died at 60, a very young age for a great artist. As artists age, they get better, their visions deepen. I am saddened that Ozu was taken from us at such an early age, but his work will always remain with us. Thank you, Mr. Ozu...
A Family: It's who we all are.
L. Haugen | Marin County, CA | 03/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie several years ago with some 100% Japanese girlfriends who had never been to Japan, and rented this tape to prepare their 1st visit w/their Japanese family in Japan. I am only half Japanese, but spent the first 8 years of my life there and return quite frequently. I don't think there is another movie out there that can really flood my eyes. The director's narrative and cinematography to this story is so precise and poignant about families, universally, is what makes it such a High rated classic. The children grow up, move away from their family in the countryside and forget about their parents, even when they come to visit. Busy and tirelessly uncontent with their own lives in Tokyo, hiding their lack of success in the big city, the "children" never see the true blessing to their existence and the "joy" of family. The parents realize they raised a bunch of selfish children who really don't care much about them and decide to maybe return home. There is one character who has lost her parents and is more than willing to take the visiting parents around. The children are striving for other "material" happiness, yet the very thing that could root them is what they avoid, family.
Around the world I have seen the happiest families, 3 generations, under one roof. Somehow when families depart and move it's easy to forget and avoid and eventually isolate. This movie reminds me of my family life in Japan, the honesty of the charcters and actions and non-actions had me sobbing the whole way through. This movie transcends all languages and families as these emotions are the human condition. Oddly enough, my Japanese-American friends were confused by how emotional this movie made me. Sadly, I really felt their family value: detatched. This movie is a great reminder to respect your family, no matter what. Their time is not forever, and neither is yours."