Saturday, 17 July 2010

Tokyo Story (1953)

Tokyo Story I suppose along with say Citizen Kane and the Godfather (even though Part 2 is better) is considered universally one of greatest films ever made and the crown jewel of Japanese cinema and Yasujiro Ozu's masterpiece. The story is about two elderly grandparents who visit their children in Tokyo. The children however can find little time for their parents, and it becomes a slightly awkward visit for all parties. The grandparents return home sooner than expected, the grandmother falls critically ill, the children come to visit, she dies, they mourn and then they leave again. The film highlights the divide between generations of Post-war Japan and the inevitably that people as time goes on simply drift apart from each other. I think I've heard someone describe TS as the film 'that makes grown men weep' and I'll admit to getting a little tear-eyed and even watching the trailer gets me a little emotional *sob* The thing about Ozu is that he doesn't need a rousing music score to do this. Fancy Hollywood style editing and camera angles are non-existent, Ozu practically only one single type of camera angle throughout the whole film and barring one occasion it never moves.

It's a shining example of perfectly controlled cinema. The idea of film a being perfect is an impossibility but with Tokyo Story I'd argue that there's nothing that can be done to improve it. Ok yes, it's an extremely slow film so some people may be put off, the camera angles and editing for someone not used to Ozu's style can be fairly disorientating (it was for me anyway). The dialogue is delivered with little emotion whatsoever, which only heightens the emotional impact later on when things become a little more tense. The script is so simple yet the dialogue has so much hidden depth, I don't think any filmmaker can put as meaning and thoughtfulness into a single 'yes' as Ozu can and every single scene is memorable. I love the scene in the bar as the three elderly men get drunk while discussing the disappointment of life, so perfect, in a film filled with many perfect scenes!

Anyway my boring words don't do the film justice, go watch arguably the best film ever!