An evening dedicated to Yasujiro Ozu (1903-1963). We screen his masterpiece “Tokyo Story” and Wim Wenders’ “Tokyo-ga”, an ode to this great Japanese filmmaker.
Film program at h 19.15 – Tokyo-ga” by Wim Wenders (West Germany/USA, 1983-1985, 92 min, English, Japanese with Dutch subtitles)
Few directors have as precise and recognizable a style as Yasujiro Ozu, sometimes called the father of Japanese cinema. Film scholars have studied and dissected that style for years, and filmmakers imitated it. One artist particularly moved by Ozu’s elegant way with the medium was Wim Wenders, who made a feature-length documentary tribute to the legendary director, 1985’s Tokyo-ga. The film pays homage to Ozu with hushed cityscapes and evocations of everyday Japanese lives, only occasionally interpolating a scene directly about him.
“I was curious as to whether I still could track down something from this time, whether there was still anything left of this work”, Wenders says in a voiceover. ” Images perhaps, or even people…. Or whether so much would have changed in Tokyo in the twenty years since Ozu’s death that nothing would be left to find?”
The highlights of ”Tokyo-Ga” are interviews with Chishu Ryu, the actor who starred in so many Ozu films, playing father figures much older than he was at the time, and with Yuharu Atsuta, who was Ozu’s assistant cameraman for 15 years and then his principal cameraman during the last 20 years of the director’s career. Mr. Ryu talks candidly about his acting, saying that his job was simply to do what the director wanted and that, in fact, he was often a very slow learner. Mr. Atsuta shows Mr. Wenders the camera set-up with which he was able to give the director his beloved ”tatami shots,” in which everything is seen at the eye level of someone sitting on the floor, and which became the most remarked-upon feature of Ozu’s visual style. He tells a number of often comic anecdotes about ”the master’s” idiosyncracies – Ozu always scouted locations on foot and, says Mr. Atsuta, the scounting trip was ended when they passed out, one assumes, from fatigue. When Mr. Wenders leaves, the old man is in tears, initially of loss, then of embarrassment for having broken down in the first place.
Film program at h 21.15 – “Tokyo Story” by Yasujiro Ozu (“Tôkyô monogatari”, Japan, 1953, 136 min, Japanese with Dutch subtitles)
A profoundly stirring evocation of elemental humanity and universal heartbreak,Tokyo Story is the crowning achievement of the unparalleled Yasujiro Ozu. The film, which follows an aging couple’s journey to visit their grown children in bustling postwar Tokyo, surveys the rich and complex world of family life with the director’s customary delicacy and incisive perspective on social mores. Featuring lovely performances from Ozu regulars Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara, Tokyo Story plumbs and deepens the director’s recurring theme of generational conflict, creating what is without question one of cinema’s mightiest masterpieces.
The classic Tokyo Story is re-released by EYE in theatres to mark the recent digital restoration of six major films by Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu (1903-1963).
EXTRAS: Tokyo Story: Compassionate Detachment By David Bordwell
“…critics came to realize that this quiet filmmaker was one of cinema’s finest artists.”
“But Tokyo Story lacks even this minimal plot drive; it carries to the limit Ozu’s faith that everyday life, rendered tellingly, provides more than enough drama to engage us deeply.”
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