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Tokyo Story
(Tokyo Monogatari)

Screening on Film
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Directed by Yasujiro Ozu.
With Chishu Ryu, Chieko Higashiyama, Setsuko Hara.
Japan, 1953, 35mm, black & white, 136 min.
Japanese with English subtitles.

Tokyo Story has regularly placed on the top ten lists of greatest films of all time, along with Rules Of the Game, The Passion of Joan of Arc, and Citizen Kane. It should be seen at least once, if not once a year. An elderly couple journeys to Tokyo to visit their children and are confronted by indifference, ingratitude, and self-absorption. The traditional tatami-and-tea domesticity fairly crackles with vexation and discontent; only the placid daughter-in-law (Setsuko Hara, summoning up a life of disappointment) shows any kindness to the old people. When they are packed off to a resort by their impatient children, the film deepens into an unbearably moving meditation on mortality.

PRECEDED BY

  • A Straightforward Boy (Tokkan Kozo)

    Directed by Yasujiro Ozu.
    With With Tomio Aoki, Tatso Saito, Takeshi Sakamoto.
    Japan, 1929, 35mm, black & white, silent, 28 min.

Long thought lost, this delightful little film was written quickly over beers in a Ginza bar and shot in three days, which may account for its freewheeling nature. A hapless crook kidnaps a bespectacled tyke whose name, Tokkan Kozo, means “a boy who charges into you.” The brat turns out to have an insatiable appetite for candy and is more trouble than he is worth. The child star Tomio Aoki became so popular that he changed his name to Tokkan Kozo and appeared in several other Ozu films.

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Yasujiro Ozu.
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