Monday, March 15, 2010

Tokyo Twilight (東京暮色)

3/15, 8:30 PM in Kent 413

"One of Ozu's most piercing portraits of family strife, Tokyo Twilight follows the parallel paths of two sisters contending with an absent mother, unwanted pregnancy, and marital discord."
-Criterion Collection

On March 25, we will be kicking off the Japanese Film Club with a film from 1957, Ozu Yasujiro's Tokyo Twilight. For those of you who've seen some of Ozu's better-known films (Tokyo Story, Late Spring), I think you'll find this a really interesting departure from his normal style. It is definitely more "dark" than anything else I've seen by him (as the review below points out) and this does seem to put somewhat of a strain on all of the actors that Ozu generally casts with a restrained emotional palette (i.e. Ryu Chishu, Hara Setsuko). However, I think that in many ways it is one of Ozu's most spiritually redemptive films. The development of his style of framing, with multiple distinct planes of action (usually marked by tatami), and his meticulous placement of people and objects in every shot is at such a high point here that it lends the film a sort of second progression underlying the surface narrative. That narrative, however, is very powerful in and of itself, and although the film is over two hours, it is one of Ozu's most gripping. For those of you who've never seen any Ozu before, you may be frustrated by the lack of confrontation (which is actually much less apparent here than in his other films) and the repetition of sequences (mahjong games, meaningless conversations over saké), but I think if you are interested in film you will come to appreciate the meaning behind this repetition. Tokyo Twilight casts the intense drama of a young woman coming to grips with identity over the backdrop of a society that always repeats its mundane errors and consigns the meaningful to a world of fiction (see the scene in the mahjong bar when one player tells the story of Akiko's pregnancy). The suffering of that woman seems to stun the characters around her out of their selfishness and accidental malice, which is really just a kind of laziness. A supremely mature piece from Ozu, and in my opinion one of his best.


If you want to read more on Tokyo Twilight and Ozu's other films, click here.


  1. Sam-さん、

    先週の映画はよかったですよ、でも 今週のクラブへ行くことができません。 すみません。来週の映画はなんですか。ぜひ行きたいですよ。

  2. サイモンさん、ありがとうございます。今週行かなくてもだいじょうぶです。来週の映画、まだです。しかし、もうすぐブログに書きます。It will probably be a jidai-geki (period piece), since I have not shown any yet. I am really glad you enjoyed the movie, and please come next time.