Welcome to The Best Movies I’ve Never Seen! This is the part of the blog where I work my way through 100 films I’ve never seen that are generally considered to be great. You’re invited to watch along with me if you can find a copy or find it streaming. So grab some popcorn and let’s get started!
Directed by Yasujirō Ozu
Quick synopsis… An elderly couple in post-World War II Japan travel to Tokyo to visit their children but are received rather coldly by their offspring. In fact, the only person happy to see them is their widowed daughter-in-law.
This has been called one of the greatest films ever made. When it was first released in 1953, it was not exported to the west because it was deemed “too Japanese” for international audiences. However, when it was finally viewed in London and, later, New York, the film won awards and critical praise.
Personally… I had a hard time following. To be fair, I don’t speak Japanese. I know… the movie has subtitles. But when it comes to the Japanese films on this particular list, I guess I’m more looking forward to the work of Kurosawa than anything else. A family drama from 1953? Not necessarily my cup of tea.
The above synopsis, while incredibly short, is basically the story. There’s more involved than just the travel to Tokyo and back again. But the whole story boils down to this family and how the parents interact with their grown children. Looking at it from the perspective of someone who took a lot of psychology and sociology classes in college, it is definitely and interesting case study of family dynamics. It could even be considered an early template or inspiration for the 1989 film Parenthood.
Both of those movies deal with inter-generational dynamics and the misunderstandings that come about when parents want to spend time with their adult children who either can’t or won’t make time in their own lives for their parents. In that sense… it’s pretty good stuff.
But I don’t think this will be a movie from this list that I’ll recommend to others. Unless you’re really into slow moving international drama. Or you understand Japanese. I feel like understanding the language would have made this film a lot more enjoyable as opposed to reading the subtitles for over two hours.
Having seen Tokyo Story, it now ranks at 996 out 2,272 movies on my personal Flickchart.
Have you seen Tokyo Story? What did you think of it? Would you give it higher praise than I did? Let me know what you think down in the comments!