Friday, March 23, 2012
Tokyo Story (The Criterion Collection)
Tokyo Story (東京物語 Tōkyō Monogatari) is a 1953 Japanese film directed by Yasujirō Ozu. It tells the story of an aging couple who travel to Tokyo to visit their grown children. The film contrasts the behavior of their biological children, who are too busy to pay them much attention, and their daughter-in-law, who treats them with kindness. It is often regarded as Ozu's masterpiece, and has twice appeared in Sight & Sound magazine's 'Top Ten' list of the greatest films ever made.
The script was developed by Yasujirō Ozu and his long-time collaborator Kōgo Noda over a period of 103 days in a country inn in Chigasaki. The two, together with cinematographer Yuharu Atsuta, then scouted locations in Tokyo and Onomichi for another month before shooting started. Shooting and editing the film took place from July to October 1953. In many respects the production of Tokyo Story was unremarkable and routine. As with most Ozu films, production - from the development of the script to the final editing - took four months to complete. Ozu used the same film crew and actors he had worked with for many years and the film's themes were similar to the themes of his other films.
Like all of Ozu's sound films, Tokyo Story's pacing is slow (or, as David Bordwell prefers to describe it, "calm"). Important events are often not shown on screen, only being revealed later through dialogue. For example, Ozu does not depict the mother and father's journey to Tokyo at all. Ozu uses his distinctive camera style, often called “tatami-mat” shot, in which the camera height is low and almost never moves; film critic Roger Ebert wryly notes that the camera moves once in the film, which is "more than usual" for an Ozu film