Ozu's celebrated exploration of family and 1950's Japanese society presents the tumult of a nation in rapid economic expansion with unexpected tranquility, delineated in delicately layered tableaux.
The viewer in 2011 cannot avoid understanding the urban environments in 'Tokyo Story' as incidental moments, captured instances selected from a lengthy period of mutation and relentless growth; but with careful, elegant gestures Ozu emphasizes the individual. Quotidian realities - laundry, cleaning, packing - are reassuring constants, executed with patience. Daily routines ground the characters of 'Tokyo Story' amidst the rapid transformation of post-war Japan.
Ozu fixes the camera below the eye-level of individuals seated on tatami. Space is compressed into a succession of meticulously arranged layers. Characters occupy mid-ground planes, obscured by tea pots and ramune pop bottles, nestled amongst domesticity. Motion is minimal and controlled, even in the faces of the characters. Noriko, an independent young woman recurring in several of Ozu's films, and the elderly couple that the film centres on, maintain their serene smiles even as they issue scathing insights on the failed promises of their lives.