3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A graceful, subtle, powerful film from Ozu
I have only recently begun exploring some of the works of the eminent Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, and while I was able to appreciate the greatness of FLOATING WEEDS, it is his TOKYO STORY that I will remember more. Plotwise, Ozu offers more a scenario than an actual story: two elderly parents go to Tokyo to visit their children, who do not necessarily welcome them...
Published on July 2 2004 by Kenji Fujishima
0 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not worth watching
i would give this film zero stars, but it won't let me.
this is a realist film. it's long, and it's boring. not that i hate realist films. but this one is predictable, and i was waiting the whole time for the end to come. i guess i'm just unsympathetic to what others called "insight to the human condition." just because others consider this a classic,...
Published on Feb 7 2004 by Bridgette Chabot
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A graceful, subtle, powerful film from Ozu,
This review is from: Tokyo Story (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)I have only recently begun exploring some of the works of the eminent Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, and while I was able to appreciate the greatness of FLOATING WEEDS, it is his TOKYO STORY that I will remember more. Plotwise, Ozu offers more a scenario than an actual story: two elderly parents go to Tokyo to visit their children, who do not necessarily welcome them warmly. From that simple scenario, though, Ozu creates scenes that say so little and yet say so much about familial relations. That is the power of his minimalist style: a lot is left unsaid among the characters, but many things are implied, and of course it is left to the viewer to pick up on the implications and perhaps reflect on them. (The parents' children, for example, all feel exasperation at what they see as their burden when their parents arrive, but only Noriko, the widow of one of their dead sons, is truly nice to them. Obviously that says something about the others...)
Watching TOKYO STORY, I felt like I was in the presence of a wise old man who I felt could teach me, in his own silent way, a lot of things about life, especially when I eventually grow up (I am only eighteen myself) and perhaps run into these same situations that Ozu illustrates in this film. Perhaps people might react differently to this film---older people might identify with the situations, while younger ones might react in a more objective but fascinated manner. Either way, I don't think anyone who chances upon this wonderful film will not be moved in some way. What you see with every shot and every image in TOKYO STORY is life---plain and simple. It's so realistic it's haunting.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So Real, You Can't Forget,
This review is from: Tokyo Story (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)Yasujiro Ozu had directed films from late 1920's to 1962. But he hit his stride with "Tokyo Story." Ozu movies are about the lower or middle classes, their interior lives in a very crowded and small country. This film has been ranked by various film organizations as one of the best ten movies ever made. It is a snapshot of the aspiring middle class of Japan in 1953. The war is fading and the post-war miracle is in the making. The young Japanese are striving and materialistic, but it should be said, they live in a very small world indeed. Their houses, even the house of the doctor-son is tiny and everyone sits on the floor, there are no chairs. The elderly parents representing the old Japan visit their two sons and daughter in a rebuilding, industrialized Tokyo. The parents are not welcomed warmly, but are shuttled off to a resort. Only the daughter-in-law welcomes them. Her husband had been killed in the war and she honors his memory by honoring her in-laws. Then the mother dies and the kids go to the funeral and then get back to work. All the scenes of family life take place in tiny interiors where there are for example, close up shots of two kimonoed women talking intimately with much politeness. The exterior shots contrast an industrial world of smokestacks with the beauty of the Japanese mountains and seacoast. The camera angles are very precise. The actors are unbelievably good. If you are looking for plot, you won't find much here, but you will find a studied slice of life. This movie is long and in black and white. It does not move quickly and you must stay with it to take in something different.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gentle story about family,
This review is from: Tokyo Story (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)An elderly couple are excited to make the long trip to visit their grown children in Tokyo; once there, however, they find the children are too busy to spend time with them.
This is a lovely and touching movie from the acclaimed director Yasujiro Ozu. His specialty was observing familial relationships and the ordinary day-to-day life of post-war Japan. In "Tokyo Story," we see a couple who love their children and patiently and philosophically forgive them for their rudeness. The circle of life and the real personalities of all the characters make for a poignant story.
It moves slowly and may be too long, but the result is an unforgettable glimpse into another time and place. In Japanese with English subtitles. Recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you kind to your parents?,
This review is from: Tokyo Story (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Disc, Brilliant Audio Commentary,
This review is from: Tokyo Story (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)David Desser's illuminating audio commentary opens the film up in new ways, allowing the viewer to understand Ozu's deceptively simple style with greater depth and appreciation. Demonstrating Ozu's mastery with imagery and in scene after scene, Dessler describes how Ozu builds subtle dimensions of emotional and thematic subtext using camera placement, movement and editing of shots. What may seems rather ordinary at first sudddenly becomes breathtaking and you'll marvel at Ozu's sheer economy of storytelling. Truly, Tokyo Story is a thing of beauty and this disc will show you why. One of Criterion's finest disc sets, and that's saying alot.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Quiet masterpiece,
This review is from: Tokyo Story (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)This film was held back from international distribution for many years because it was thought to be too "Japanese". It's hard to imagine why.
The story is immediately engrossing and keeps you rivetted from start to finish. It's not Seven Samurai or Yojimbo, but a simple tale of an elderly couple travelling to Tokyo to see their children. What results is disappointment and resentment masked by plastic smiles , false pleasantries and rigid formality. The parents are disappointed in the children, and the children resent the parents. There are no intense moments of melodrama or intriguing plot twists to entertain the viewer. Worlds of pain and suffering are revealed through a few words here or there, or through subtle body language.
The film is beautifully photographed with a minimal amount of camera movement (if there is any at all), and is well preserved by Criterion. It may not be the best restoration ever, but it's superior to the infamous Ran transfers, and hardly noticeable when the film carries you away.
The entire cast is wonderful, varying from polite inoffensive formality of the elderly couple, the businesslike, obligatory courtesy of the children, and carefree lack of pretentiousness of the grandchildren. The characters are so realistic that you may be reminded of friends or family. Standing out are Chishu Ryu as the father and Setsuko Hara as the widow of Ryu's deceased son. Hara spends most of her film time bearing the most artificial and forced smiles, almost annoyingly, until the end with her scene with Ryu in which years of concealed heartbreak finally come to the surface. It is simple to the point of understatement, and quite memorable.
Ozu, one of the most neglected artists in the West, shows himself here to be one of the great directors of all time in this universal tale of deception and honesty. I'm not going to throw away Kurosawa, but I will let him set on the back-burner for a while so i can explore the new and soon to be released works of this Quiet Master of cinema.
5.0 out of 5 stars All-Time Classic,
This review is from: Tokyo Story (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)Ozu's 1953 "Tokyo Story" is about as perfect as any film ever made. It's a veritable masterpiece of cinema. If only twenty films of the past 100 years could be saved for the future, then Tokyo Story must be one of them.
There's too many reasons why this film is so wonderful for me to go into here. Others are more up to the task of explaining its many little touches and charms. I will only say that this is a wonderfully warm, human, touching story filmed as good as any movie ever made. This one is definately "up there"!
The DVD isn't as clean a transfer as with others of the Criterion Collection, and I assume it's because the original negative is unusable or lost? Perhaps this is the best print to have survived? It's hard to say. The soundtrack is in mono and the film is presented in a fullscreen 1.33:1 aspect-ratio in true black & white. There's a great commentary track to listen to as well, and with all of Ozu's films I would strongly suggest listening to the commentaries to fully understand and appreciate the brilliant film methods of Ozu the master.
What's not to love about "Tokyo Story"? The characters are so real and so complex, just like we are. The story is always believable and never over-melodramatic like a bad Disney film. The emotions we feel are sincere ones and Tokyo Story doesn't make demands on our emotional reaction to the film, but rather we slowly find ourselves volunteering our emotional reactions freely. That is the mark of a brilliant film.
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtle, Powerful, * * * * * *,
This review is from: Tokyo Story (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)To appreciate this movie, keep in mind while watching it that traditional Japanese behavior is to restrict expressing your own opinion. Japanese people do not say, "do you want to..."; instead, they say, "will you...?" Because of this, you must pay really close attention to the words and actions of others to discover how they are really feeling. Try to put yourself into the shoes of each person in this film, and you will feel enlightened when the movie is over.
This movie is about a kind old couple who take a trip to visit their grown children in a big city across the country. However, they soon get the feeling that they are imposing on their children's lives, and do all they can to keep out of the way. Eventually they leave for home, but the old woman grows gravely ill along the way.
That is only the outward-facing plot of the movie. The movie is really about priorities (culture and peace of mind versus your own self-interests), relationships, and loyalty.
A word of warning: this is a kleenex movie!
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential,
This review is from: Tokyo Story (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)This is vintage Criterion: good image quality and great extras (a detailed commentary and a biography of the director).
5.0 out of 5 stars Honor thy father and thy mother...,
This review is from: Tokyo Story (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)Mr. and Mrs. Hirayama pay a visit to their adult children who live in Tokyo. "They must be looking forward to your visit" says a neighbor. In reality family gatherings cause always trouble: Workaday life is upset. Hosts feel obliged to make a fuss. Koichi, their eldest son, a paediatrician, lives in a suburb. He accomodates his parents in the children's room - an annoyance for his teenage son, who is suddenly eager to learn for a school-test. Noriko, the widow of their second son, is genuinely pleased to welcome her in-laws, quite in contrast to Shige, their eldest daughter: This fortysomething hairdresser feels ashamed for her overweignt mother...After dinner (No fish. Sukiyaki will do) they talk about the weather (hot) and old acquaintances. Soon the topics of conversation are exhausted. Shige's husband volunteers to take his in-laws to a variety show, but feels relieved when his wife talks him out of it. Koichi plans to take his parents to a department store, but an emergency gets in his way. His mother understands: " A busy doctor is a good doctor". She wonders if she will live to see her grandsons grow up.
So far, the Hirayamas have not seen much of Tokyo. At last Koichi takes them to the public baths and treats them to ice-cream. Shige envies them even expensive cookies. She persuades Noriko to take them on a sightseeing tour. Noriko is glad to oblige and plays the tourist guide. She really likes and respects her in-laws, although her marriage to their son - missing since the war - was not a happy one. In the meantime Shige prompts her brother to club some money together and send them to Atami-Spa, a health resort. Swimming and siesta are much healthier for senior citizens than sightseeing in Tokyo - and less expensive. And so the Hirayamas bathe in hot springs and think their children spent a lot of money. But Atami is better suited for young people. Turbulence, mosquitos, and the house-maids spy on honeymooners...Mrs. Hirayama has a sinking feeling. They decide to go home. Shige is unable to conceal her indignation when her parents turn up again. She disavows them ("friends from the country") but feigns love ("I wanted to take you to the theater"). They don't want to bother Koichi again, Noriko has not enough room..."We've become homeless at last". But Hirayama's little joke sticks in his throat...
He calls on some old comrades and discovers that they envy him: "you can be proud of your children". The others have lost their sons in the war or are estranged from them. Those old men do not think highly of the younger generation: "They lack spirit, they lack ambition", but Hirayama understands that "We expect too much of our children". While his wife spends the happiest night of her journey with her sympathetic daughter in law, the pitiable shige has to give shelter to her drunken father and his buddy. Next morning the Hirayamas say goodbye to Tokyo and protest: "You've been very kind to us. We've enjoyed our trip". Soon Koichi, Shige and Noriko receive word from Keizo (Their youngest son who lives in Osaka) that his mother has fallen ill. And so, Mrs. Hirayama dies in the midst of her family - except Keizo, who arrives too late. Shige blames him. Her own conduct is above reproach - she is the only one in mourning...Speechlessness reigns during the obsequies, but the family unbends during the funeral repast. They lodge their claims - Shige wants mother's kimonos - their jobs and a baseball-game are waiting...Kyoko (the youngest daughter who still lives with her father) boils with rage: "They're selfish. Wanting mother's clothes right after her death!" but Noriko soothes her. Mr. Hirayama returns his thanks to Noriko: She should pursue her own happiness. Marry again. He is resigned to his lot. Days fade away slowly for a lonely widower...
One has to see how contemporary filmmakers depict the duties of grown-up children to perceive to greatness of TOKYO STORY. DAD (1989) blackmails the audience with its poisonous sentimentality and MA SAISON PREFEREE (1993) demonstrates that the forced avoidance of sentimentality is equally calculating. A Hollywood director would have allocated the climax differently: Mother dies. The children repent. The unloving daughter is punished. But Ozu does not serve a leveled taste. The veracity of his storytelling and the clear-viewed performances make his films so immensely stylish. Simple, but nothing more is needed. This sense of decency leaves the audience not depressed but elevated, exalted. It's nearly an honor to watch Ozu's films.
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Tokyo Story (The Criterion Collection) by Yasujirô Ozu (DVD - 2003)
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