The Essential Movie Library #17: Tokyo Story (1953) - The Culture Files Blog - Los Angeles magazine
 
 

The Essential Movie Library #17: Tokyo Story (1953)

The masterpiece that haunts filmmakers as much as any movie since Citizen Kane.

Alcoholic and probably gay, looking like an American gangster in his early photos, Yasujirō Ozu nonetheless is the most quintessentially Japanese of filmmakers, though that may say as much about our stereotypical notions of what “Japanese” is, which in turn may say as much about our perceptions of Ozu’s incongruity. Certainly Ozu seems unlikely as cinema’s ultimate chronicler of family and its binding obligations, which he champions rather than contests. In Tokyo Story an older couple travels to the big city to visit grown children who can’t find the time for them, the movie’s trajectory then curving back toward a final verdict: “Isn’t life disappointing?”

Born not long after the beginning of his century, Ozu grew up with the movies and their developing kineticism. Then, in the last decade of his life, as cinema raced to try and keep up with the rush of nuclear times and seemed to be losing, Ozu reintroduced a stillness that was a revelation. Overlooked by American audiences so new to Japanese cinema that they assumed it began and ended with Kurosawa, Tokyo Story didn’t get a screening in the United States until the mid-1960s following Ozu’s death; in the time since, he’s become the director’s director, his masterpiece haunting other filmmakers as much as any movie since Citizen Kane.

Read them all:
The Essential Movie Library #16: 8 1/2
The Essential Movie Library #15: City Lights
The Essential Movie Library #14: Seven Samurai
The Essential Movie Library #13: Lawrence of Arabia
The Essential Movie Library #12: Citizen Kane
The Essential Movie Library #11: Jules and Jim
The Essential Movie Library #10: My Darling Clementine
The Essential Movie Library #9: Double Indemnity
The Essential Movie Library #8: That Obscure Object of Desire
The Essential Movie Library #7: 2001: A Space Odyssey
The Essential Movie Library #6: Casablanca
The Essential Movie Library #5: The Lady Eve
The Essential Movie Library #4: The Third Man
The Essential Movie Library #3: The Passion of Joan of Arc
The Essential Movie Library #2: Vertigo
The Essential Movie Library #1: The Godfather Trilogy

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