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(aka "Tokyo monogatari" or "Tokyo Story")

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/ozu.htm
Japan 1953

Yasujiro Ozu's most widely distributed and best-known film presents the story of an elderly couple in post World War II Japan who come to Tokyo to visit their various children and realise that the family has essentially fallen apart. The couple is received coldly by their two modernized children and only their widowed daughter-in-law seems glad to see them. The children shuttle their aging parents off to a health spa in an attempt to get them out of the way. They learn later that the mother has fallen ill upon her return and arrive too late to say their good-byes.

***

2003 marked the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu who died of cancer in 1963. Film fans around the world were treated to theatrical retrospectives of his major works. Critics note "Tokyo Story" as his masterwork achievement, and rightly so. 

***

What I personally noted about this film was Ozu's style of the 180 degree cuts when there is conversation. Unlike modern cinema pans and multiple cameras and angles, I found the flow of these dialogues took some getting used to. I can only assume these are "cuts" - individual takes which shows immense effort and choreography. I can appreciate his use of them for "allowing each character to impart his/her lines with adequate importance" without distraction - akin to not "cutting a person off" in mid-conversation. In repeat viewings although I was aware of this convention, it was far less noticeable to me. This type of strict adherence to a particular style is so wonderful to see. It signifies to me that the director was not influenced to manipulate his vision as we see so often in cinema today. This was Ozu's trademark and it works for the most important evaluation of any work of art - longevity. This film sits proudly in my collection - one I can revisit repeatedly for the rest of my life.

 Poster and Script Book

Theatrical Release: November 3rd, 1953 - Japan

Reviews                             More Reviews                         DVD Reviews  

 Comparison:

BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray vs. Shochiku - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Criterion (Dual Format) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

1) BFI Region 'B' - Blu-ray  LEFT

2) Shochiku Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

Distribution

BFI

Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Shochiku

Region FREE - Blu-ray

Criterion Collection - Spine #217
Region 'A' -Blu-ray
Runtime 2:15:53.145 2:16:46.406 2:17:10.055
Video

1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 37,801,791,143 bytes

Feature: 37,697,015,808 bytes

Video Bitrate: 33.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,207,132,778 bytes

Feature: 44,856,293,376 bytes

Video Bitrate: 37.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,403,305,619 bytes

Feature: 28,299,976,704 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.67 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Bitrate: BFI

 

Blu-ray

 

Bitrate: Shochiku

 

Blu-ray

 

Bitrate: Criterion

 

Blu-ray

 

Audio LPCM Audio Japanese 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit LPCM Audio Japanese 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
LPCM Audio Japanese 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
LPCM Audio Japanese 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Subtitles English, None English, Japanese, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: BFI

 

1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 37,801,791,143 bytes

Feature: 37,697,015,808 bytes

Video Bitrate: 33.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Extensive illustrated booklet featuring essays and film notes

Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family (DVD only)

 

Blu-ray Release Date: June 21st, 2010
Custom Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio:
Shochiku

 

1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,207,132,778 bytes

Feature: 44,856,293,376 bytes

Video Bitrate: 37.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• 
Commentary (Japanese only)

• 2 Trailers

• 106-page booklet (Japanese only)

 

Blu-ray Release Date: July 6th, 2013
Transparent Blu-ray Case inside thick slipcase with book

Chapters 17

 

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,403,305,619 bytes

Feature: 28,299,976,704 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.67 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

  • Audio commentary by Ozu-scholar David Desser, editor of Ozu's Tokyo Story
  • I Lived, but...(1983), a two-hour documentary about the life and career of Ozu (2:02:48)
  • Talking with Ozu: a tribute to Yasujiro Ozu, featuring directors Stanley Kwan, Aki Kurasmaki, Claire Denis, Lindsay Anderson, Paul Schrader, Wim Wenders, and Hsiao-Hsien (39:33)
  • Documentary from 1988 about actor Chishu Ryu’s career at Shochiku’s Ofuna studios, featuring a lengthy interview with Ryu (45:09)
  • Trailer (4:20)
  • Essay by David Bordwell, author of Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema
  • Second disc DVD with feature and supplements included

Blu-ray Release Date: November 19th, 2013
Transparent Blu-ray Case  
Chapters: 26

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (October 2013): Firstly, I've missed a couple of matches on the caps but a few are exact (notably #4 and #8 are good ones to expand and toggle between). Even though the Criterion has the lowest bitrate it improves upon both Blu-ray releases in important areas. Criterion's new 1080P transfer is from the 4K restoration so it advances over the BFI - as already noted to have issues with the source condition, contrast flickering and stretching. The Criterion is rock solid by comparison. We noted the orange/sepia hue of the Shochiku but the Criterion, as per their hallmark, exports excellent contrast with more pure black and whites. Now, I do appreciate the Criterion but it is not perfect exhibiting some artifacts (a higher bitrate may have lessened their prominence.) So the Shochiku, and its max'ed out bitrate, is smoother... but orangey, the BFI has some less forgivable issues and the Criterion, 4K steadiness-smooth but shows a few digital artifacts, slides into first place with the video, IMO.

The lossless audio reminds me of the Shochiku - it is clean via a linear PCM mono track. Also improved over past SD transfers. There are optional English subtitles (spot the error in the below example!) on the region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.

Criterion include everything from their 2003 DVD. We get the scholarly audio commentary by Ozu-scholar David Desser, editor of Ozu's Tokyo Story, I Lived, But...(1983), the wonderfully informative two-hour documentary about the life and career of Ozu, plus Talking with Ozu: a 40-minute tribute to Yasujiro Ozu, featuring directors Stanley Kwan, Aki Kurasmaki, Claire Denis, Lindsay Anderson, Paul Schrader, Wim Wenders, and Hsiao-Hsien and a 1988,. Plus a new addition - a 45-minute, documentary about actor Chishu Ryu’s career at Shochiku’s Ofuna studios, featuring a lengthy interview with Ryu. There is also a trailer and this is the first wave of Criterion new Dual-format so the package includes a DVD of the feature with the supplements and the same David Bordwell essay in the liner notes. Criterion handily win in the extras department.

The Criterion package eclipses the others - one of the greatest films of all time - in an super 1080P presentation, lossless clean audio and important supplements. Fans will be so pleased. Our highest recommendation!

***

ADDITION: Shochiku - Region FREE  Blu-ray - July 2013: Good friend, MW, who alerted me to this Shochiku Blu-ray says: "And it is quite stunning! The best it has looked on Video-- ever!
It has been almost 60 years since I saw an original print at UCLA, so I cannot rely on my memory as to how accurately it resembles that print, but it certainly isn't the dupey versions that have existed since the original release. And it is better than any other restoration I have seen. By far.

It is truly a restoration. The image is rock steady (it wove a lot in every version I've seen both on video and on the screen) and the contrast is right. (By my recollection -- remember this is after 60 years -- the image is a little bit darker than I remember. But is not a heavy image. )

The Audio track is very clean. And as far as I can tell it is region free.

There are a bunch of title cards on the end of the film, in Japanese, which seem to be about the restoration. All my Japanese neighbors have moved on, so it may be a while before I can recruit someone to translate.

At any rate, this is as close to a rave as I know how to write. And the subtitles are based on the original subtitle set which captured the emotional range of the film better than any other set I have seen.
"

Yes, in DVDBeaver-ville we feel comparative analysis is the best judge and this new Shochiku restoration is radically different from the BFI 1080P - which now looks brittle and thin beside the Japanese transfer. The Shochiku leans to a light sepia/tan/grey contrast (which may very well be more accurate!) where the BFI is more 'black and white' but it appears unnaturally boosted at times next to the restoration. The damage present on the region 'B' rendering is, incredibly, almost totally irradiated on the Shochiku. If you toggle back and forth between the large click-able screen grabs you can see that one of these is out of ratio. It could be a little of both but to my eye it looks like the British edition is more irregular with some vertical stretching. Technically the Shochiku is slightly more robust. I watched both, toggling back and forth on two Blu-ray players and the region FREE Shochiku is vastly superior in the image. It may also get a notch ahead in the audio - which sounds very clear and even. It offers both optional English or Japanese subtitles. Extras seem to include a Japanese language commentary, two trailers and the package has an extensive book with photos and posters (some in color) - see photo below. I was floored by the presentation and the fact it is region FREE should make it desirable for many. One of the greatest films of all time - in a definitive Blu-ray transfer!

***

ADDITION: BFI Dual-format package - July 2010: There are less scratches than Late Spring but I just don't feel this source has equivalent density. Regardless, once again Criterion supplied the graded master materials, however BFI did their own A/V transfer/restoration. Damage should therefore be duplicated with that region 1 DVD. The Criterion was done way back in 2003 - before they enacted the letterboxing policy. Detail is one of the areas that the new 1080P transfer notably improves over all the DVDs. It is tighter and has better contrast - overall the image presentation is much better in motion. This is dual-layered with a high bitrate. While there is not much depth - the Criterion (best of the DVDs) looks flatter by comparison.

BFI have the Japanese soundtrack in a lossless linear PCM 2.0 at 2304 kbps. It does sound cleaner and crisper to my ears.  I should note that I prefer the BFI subtitle font size to any of the others.

Extras have a separate DVD sharing both Tokyo Story and Ozu's The Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family reviewed HERE. It comes with a liner notes booklet with an essay by Professor Joan Mellen and Ozu biographer Tony Rayns.

An easy purchase to own what is often regarded as Ozu's greatest film in the best possible digital presentation. In repeat viewings it remains emotionally shattering. Absolutely recommended!

Gary Tooze


Shochiku Blu-ray Package

 

 

BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

Shochiku - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) BFI Region 'B' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Shochiku Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) BFI Region 'B' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Shochiku Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) BFI Region 'B' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Shochiku Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) BFI Region 'B' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Shochiku Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) BFI Region 'B' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Shochiku Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) BFI Region 'B' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Shochiku Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI Region 'B' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Shochiku Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI Region 'B' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Shochiku Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI Region 'B' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Shochiku Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI Region 'B' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Shochiku Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI Region 'B' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Shochiku Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Recommended Reading in Japanese Cinema (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

The Japan Journals : 1947-2004,

by  Donald Richie

The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film
by Tom Mes and Jasper Sharp

Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema
by David Bordwell

Eros Plus Massacre: An Introduction to the Japanese New Wave Cinema (Midland Book, Mb 469)
by David Desser

Transcendental Style in Film : Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer
by Paul Schrader

Tokyo Story

by Yasujiro Ozu, Kogo Noda, Donald Richie, Eric Klestadt

Ozu by Donald Ritchie

A Hundred Years of Japanese Film by Donald Richie

Check out more in "The Library"


Box Covers

Distribution

BFI

Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Shochiku

Region FREE - Blu-ray

Criterion Collection - Spine #217
Region 'A' -Blu-ray

 


Hit Counter


Report Card:

 

Image:

Criterion Blu-ray

Sound:

Criterion and Shochiku Blu-rays

Extras: Criterion Blu-ray



 


 

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Gary Tooze

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