“Oh, she was a headstrong woman… but if I knew things would come to this, I’d have been kinder to her.  Living alone like this, the days will get very long.”

Mr. Hirayama, (portrayed by Chishu Ryu) speaking of his recently deceased wife in the film Tokyo Story, 1953.

“It says, yes, a movie can help us make small steps against our imperfections.”

— Roger Ebert

 


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The film was voted in 2012 as one of the 50 Greatest Films by the British Film Insitute.
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu. Featured image: Chishu Ryu with actress Setsuko Hara who protrays Noriko Hirayma, his daughter-in-law.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert’s review of Tokyo Story”

No story could be simpler. An old couple come to the city to visit their children and grandchildren. Their children are busy, and the old people upset their routines. In a quiet way, without anyone admitting it, the visit goes badly. The parents return home. A few days later, the grandmother dies. Now it is the turn of the children to make a journey.

From these few elements Yasujiro Ozu made one of the greatest films of all time. “Tokyo Story” (1953) lacks sentimental triggers and contrived emotion; it looks away from moments a lesser movie would have exploited. It doesn’t want to force our emotions, but to share its understanding. It does this so well that I am near tears in the last 30 minutes. It ennobles the cinema.

It says, yes, a movie can help us make small steps against our imperfections.

It does this with characters so universal that we recognize them instantly — sometimes in the mirror. It was made 50 years ago in Japan, by a man who was born 100 years ago this year, and it is about our families, our natures, our flaws and our clumsy search for love and meaning. It isn’t that our lives keep us too busy for our families. It’s that we have arranged them to protect us from having to deal with big questions of love, work and death. We escape into truisms, small talk and distractions. Given the opportunity at a family gathering to share our hopes and disappointments, we talk about the weather and watch TV.

 

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