Yasujiro Ozu. Tokyo Story (Tokyo Monogatari). 1953

Yasujiro Ozu Tokyo Story (Tokyo Monogatari) 1953

  • Not on view

Ozu was more firmly rooted in the twentieth century than any other Japanese director: his films do not rely on exotic historical spectacle, elaborate costumes, or tales of honor and conquest. He was also the filmmaker most committed to the traditional values of institutions such as the family. There is no exoticism in Tokyo Story, no sweeping action, no horses, and no historical reenactments, only people, but the viewer is compensated by the intensity of feeling that Ozu’s domestic dramas engender and by the sincerity of their message.

In Tokyo Story, people sit around drinking green tea; they sit at noodle bars; they sit in offices. Ozu’s contemplative camera hardly ever moves, and his actors seldom emote. The understated performances of the well-matched actors complement the serenity of Ozu’s atmosphere and the sparseness of his naturalistic dialogue. The film explores family dynamics and the conflict of the traditional versus the contemporary through an aging couple’s visit to their adult children in the city. Although Tokyo Story is about tangible loss, its radiant spirituality transcends death.

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Production
Japan
Duration
135 min.
Object number
F57
Department
Film

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at firenze@scalarchives.com. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.