Film Review of Tokyo Story – Brian Pridgeon

Tokyo Story is a tale of a Japanese family with a dark undertone. Shukichi and Tomi, the grandparents of Koichi, Shige, Shoji, Keizo, and Kyoko, are growing old and decide to go visit their children. They have traveled from Onomichi to Tokyo, which is an extremely far distance, especially for an elderly couple, to visit their children. However, upon arrival, they are shocked to find out that their children have no time to spend with them, leaving the question of what will happen to Shukichi and Tomi?

Ozu Yasujiro is a widely renowned, Japanese film director, as well as a screenwriter, who is known in the directing world for his unique style. Tokyo Story is one of his most famous films out of the dozens he has created and directed. His specialty is being especially particular with his directing, giving him a distinct style. Ozu uses the Rule of Thirds, which is the appeal of things being in threes, breaks the 180-degree rule as well as the fourth wall, and is quite famous for having characters look directly into the camera. He uses his characters to the fullest, having them convey emotion with their facial expressions and their actions with full body shots. He captures the real essence of the aging couple whose children are too busy for them, which can be displayed with the themes of the film.

While watching attentively, the main theme that comes out of Tokyo Story is the timeless, Asian theme of filial piety, but in this film it is the lack of respect for filial piety. Once the grandparents arrive in Tokyo they are shifted around from child to child. This is not an acceptable action to do in filial piety and it is heartbreaking to watch in the actual film itself. It is a dark story, due to the underlying theme of time running out and not cherishing what you have until it is no longer there, because the grandparents remain hopeful that their children will wish to be by their side and not find them to be a burden on them. The pawning off of the grandparents comes to a halt once they visit their late son’s wife, Noriko. Noriko is technically no longer related to their family since the death, but she is still hospitable towards them. Filial piety does make a return nearing the end of the film though, when one event forces all of the grandchildren together and helps them realize the error of their way of life by not cherishing their time with their parents.

            Tokyo Story ’s themes are important to drive the story along, as well to learn from personally. Ozu is trying to stress this theme to convey that life is limited and while you may be busy, there should always be time for family. Tokyo Story can even be categorized as a “Slice of Life” style film. That style of film gives insight into daily, non-spectacular, average, life. While it is specifically Japanese life that does not mean that it could not be applied to other nationalities. Family is universal and this scenario could occur to anyone, but it could be interpreted that Ozu used a Japanese family, which is practically based on filial piety, to show that even in the tightest of families, separation is possible. While Ozu does a sort of ellipses within the film, leaving out some rather key scenes, it is still a captivating, emotionally darker film that could leave the viewer moved by the sincerity of the film that Ozu has created with the directing and story.