The final part of Yasujiro Ozu’s loosely connected ‘Noriko’ trilogy is a devastating story of elderly grandparents brushed aside by their self-involved family.
“Ozu’s examination of the slow fracturing of the Japanese family in Tokyo Story is filled with quiet resignation, a neverending acceptance and the realization that tradition is subject to change.”
Nick Wrigley, sensesofcinema.com, 2003
The later films of Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu are marked by a striking uniformity of theme and form. These are stories of family life involving inevitable rupture, as things change, daughters marry, widowers grow old. Ozu films this bittersweet natural progression in his unmistakably controlled, minimal style, typified by head-on shots with the camera at the height of a seated observer. Tokyo Story is the best known (in the West) of this extraordinary cycle, a quietly tragic tale of an ageing couple coming to the painful realisation that their family no longer needs them.
Luminous Ozu regular Setsuko Hara plays daughter-in-law Noriko. Alhough not the same character as the Norikos she plays in Late Spring (1949) and Early Summer (1951), the films are considered a loose trilogy.
Said to have been an inspiration to Ozu, Leo McCarey’s Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) is a fiercely unsentimental Hollywood treatment of Tokyo Story’s theme.