Yasujiro Ozu was unquestionably one of the best, if not the best, Japanese film director of all time. His unique style and perspective made him one of the most singular and visionary film makers of his generation. The main themes running through his work, particularly in the post-war era, are of family and inter-generational relationships. There are so many classics, including Late Spring, Floating Weeds and Late Autumn, but in my mind his best is Tokyo Story.

Shūkichi (Chishû Ryû) and Tomi Hirayama (Chieko Higashiyama) are a retired couple who live in the small town of Onomichi with their youngest daughter Kyōko (Kyōko Kagawa). They decide to make the long trip to Tokyo in order to visit their son Kōichi (So Yamamura), eldest daughter Shige (Haruko Sugimura) and daughter-in-law (Setsuko Hara). On arrival they discover their children much-changed and preoccupied with their own lives. It falls to the widowed Noriko to show them the city.

In many ways you get what you expect from Tokyo Story. Ozu treads familiar ground by putting the relationship between parents and children under the microscope. On the surface, it’s a simple tale. However, there’s so much simmering just beneath. Set in post-war Japan, Tokyo Story tackles issues around the changing economy, technical progress, loyalty and grief. Tokyo Story is a masterpiece. A nuanced tale of family ties and growing apart.

Extras:

  • Remastered in 4K with an uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • An Introduction to Tokyo Story (2020, 26 mins): Asian-cinema expert Tony Rayns provides an introduction to Ozu’s most acclaimed film
  • Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family (1941, 105 mins): following the death of her husband, Mrs Toda realises she has been left with sizeable debts and an extended family reluctant to support her
  • Talking with Ozu (1993, 40 mins): a tribute to the legendary director featuring filmmakers Lindsay Anderson, Claire Denis, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Aki Kaurismäki, Stanley Kwan, Paul Schrader and Wim Wenders
  • Furnival and Son (1948, 19 mins): recounts the difficult choice a recently demobbed serviceman has to make between an unexpected job offer elsewhere, and resuming his pre-war position as his father’s right-hand man in their small cutlery firm, Furnival and Son
  • Image gallery
  • ***FIRST PRESSING ONLY*** Fully illustrated booklet including an essay by Professor Joan Mellen, archival writing by John Gillett and Lindsay Anderson and a biography of Yasujiro Ozu by Tony Rayns

The brand new 4K restoration of Tokyo Story is released on Blu-ray by BFI on 15 June.