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Tokyo Story (Tokyo Monogatari)

DFI Japanese Cinema Showcase at the MIA

Yasujiro Ozu / Feature Narrative / Japan / 1953 / 135 min / Black & White / 35mm
In Japanese / Arabic, English subtitles
Interests: Drama
Rated: Parental guidance is advised. Some material may be inappropriate for young children.



The most enduring masterpiece from director Yasujiro Ozu, this 1953 classic is a beautifully nuanced exploration of family duty, expectation and regret. From the simple tale of an elderly couple’s visit to Tokyo to see their grown-up children, Ozu draws a compelling contrast between the measured dignity of age and the hurried insensitivity of a younger generation.

As part of its year-round screening series, Doha Film Institute (DFI) presents a showcase of acclaimed works from the rich and diverse cinematic tradition of Japan. The showcase is part of the Qatar Japan 2012 initiative, marking the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The series will feature classic and modern films, celebrating some of the masters, stars, genres and studios that have made Japan a leader in world cinema. Screenings will take place over the last weekend of every month at the Museum of Islamic Art auditorium from March to September.

A portion of proceeds from ticket sales will go to the ROTA Tsunami Relief Fund.

About the Director

Yasujiro Ozu, one of Japan's finest film directors, was born on December 12, 1903, in Tokyo's Fukagawa. While a grade school student, however, he moved to the provincial city of Mie, where his father was from, and it was here that he said he first discovered the motion pictures, having seen and been much impressed by Thomas Ince's Civilization. After graduating from Middle School, he worked as a substitute teacher for a year before returning to Tokyo.

In 1923, through an introduction from his uncle, he signed on with the Shochiku Kamata Studios as an assistant photographer. Three years later he transferred to the directorial department and became assistant director to Tadamoto Okubo, a specialist in comic films. In 1927 he made his debut with a period drama (his only one), The Sword of Penitence (Zange no Yaiba).

Eventually, his films won much praise, particularly his I Was Born, but... (Umarete wa Mita Keredo) which was chosen by the prestigious publication Kinema Jumpo as the best film of 1932. His first talkie The Only Son (Hitori Musuko, 1936) turned out to be his last film at the Kamata Studios. After two years he returned to the Shochiku Ofuna Studios to make two of his finest films, The Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family (Toda-ke no Kyodai, 1941) and There Was a Father (Chichi Ariki, 1942).

After having been captured as prisoner while he served in the army, he returned to filmmaking in 1947 with the Record of a Tenement Gentleman (Nagaya Shinshi-roku) his first postwar production.

After the war Ozu again teamed up with screenwriter Kogo Noda, and together they created masterpieces such Late Spring (Banshun, 1949), Early Summer (Bakushu, 1951), and Tokyo Story (Tokyo Monogatari, 1953). In these and their later films Ozu and Noda superbly depicted the Japanese family and the relations between the parents, and between the children and their mothers and fathers.

Through the subtleties of the "Ozu style", with its continual low camera angle, its refusal to comment on the story it conveys, its simplicity, and its depth, these films remain among the finest in Japanese cinema. In 1958 Tokyo Story won a major prize at the London Film Festival. In 1961 there was a major retrospective at the Berlin Film Festival, and international attention was given to Ozu and his film work. The director received a medal from the Japanese government in 1958 and in the same year won the Art Academy Award and in 1959 became the first member from filmdom to enter the Japan Academy of Arts.

While his reputation was at its peak, Ozu died of cancer, December 12, 1963, his sixtieth birthday.

After his death his reputation rose even higher and his work still influences directors, not only Japanese filmmakers but also foreign directors.


Yasujiro Ozu
Shôchiku Eiga
Chishu Ryu, Chieko Higashiyama, Setsuko Hara

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