Admired by many of the world’s leading directors, including Martin Scorcese and Wim Wenders, the films of Ozu are frequently to be found in filmmakers’ and critics’ Ten Best Films lists. Tokyo Story is Ozu’s masterpiece. An almost unbearably poignant depiction of an elderly couple who go to visit their grown-up son and daughter in Tokyo. The children see them as an unwelcome interruption of their busy lives and only the couple’s daughter-in law treats them with respect. Ozu’s vision is emotionally breathtaking and is unmatched in western popular cinema.
Ozu’s best know movie is a very characteristic study of the emotional strains within a middle class Japanese family that has come to Tokyo from the counry and dispersed itself. All that happens in dramatic terms is that the family grandparents arrive in Tokyo to visit their various offspring and grow painfully aware of the chasms that exist between them and their children; only their daughter-in-law, widowed in the war, is pleased to see them. Ozu’s visioin, almost entirely un-inflected by tics and tropes of ‘style’ by this stage in his career, is emotionally overwhelming, and arguably profound for any engaged viewer; it is also formally unmatched in Western popular cinema.