close-up of a young Japanese woman resting her head on the shoulder of a young Japanese manalr

The Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family
(Toda ke no kyodai)

Screening on Film
Directed by Ozu Yasujiro.
With Takamine Mieko, Saburi Shin, Fujino Hideo.
Japan, 1941, 35mm, black & white, 105 min.
Japanese with English subtitles.
Print source: Janus Films

Both a Kinema Junpo first prize winner and Ozu’s first box office hit, The Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family helped Ozu shed his reputation as a critics’ director and even earned him a raise at Shochiku. In spite of its mass appeal, the film is an encapsulation of the formal and thematic elements Ozu had been honing since the late 1920s. The Toda family patriarch dies on the night of his birthday, but nearly all of his wealth must go towards paying off his debts. The second brother Shojiro (Saburi Shin) moves to Tianjin, China—a semi-autobiographical element, as Ozu was drafted to China for two years after the release of What Did the Lady Forget?. In Shojiro’s absence, his siblings begrudgingly take in their widowed mother (Katsuragi Ayako) and youngest sister Setsuko (Takamine Mieko). Though it shares the overall narrative arc of Tokyo Story, this film is more sprawling in its structure, which elongates the tension between unwelcome hosts and apologetic guests. The thorough characterization of each Toda sibling’s relationship to wealth shows Ozu’s instinct for revision, making the broad critique of bourgeois attitudes begun in What Did the Lady Forget? more precise.



Part of film series

Read more

Ozu 120: The Complete Ozu Yasujiro