Tokyo Story (1953), the most famous film in Ozu Yasuji’s so-called ‘Noriko triology’ and regularly ranked first among the top-ten greatest films of all time, is based loosely on Leo McCrarey’s 1937 American melodrama, Make Way for Tomorrow. An elderly couple from Onomichi travel to Tokyo to visit their children who greet them with indifference and ingratitude. Only their widowed daughter-in-law Noriko shows them kindness. Ozu contrasts Onomichi, a city known for its Buddhist templates (in Hiroshima Prefecture), with the urban sprawl of Tokyo. This lecture discusses Ozu’s gentle critique of egotism, his transcendence of melodrama, his compassionate use of the camera, and his depiction o the central character’s transformation.
Jeffrey Stout is emeritus professor of religion at Princeton University. His interests include ethics, social criticism, political thought, modern theology, film and theories of religion. He is the author of The Flight from Authority, Ethnics after Babel, Democracy and Tradition, and Blessed Are the Organized: Grassroots Democracy in America.
Tokyo Story is available for streaming through UNC-Chapel Hill’s library and on Amazon Prime Video.
Sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies, the American Academy of Religion, the Institute for Arts and Humanities, the Carolina Asia Center, the Department of Asian Studies and the Department of English and Comparative Literature.