Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Yoji Yamada to make homage to "Tokyo Story"

by Chris MaGee

There have been many, many film homages to the work of director Yasujiro Ozu. The films that come to mind immediately are Hou Hsiao-Hsien's "Cafe Lumiere", Hirokazu Koreeda's "Still Walking", Abbas Kiarostami's "Five Dedicated to Ozu" and Doris Dörrie's "Cherry Blossoms". The first half of Dörrie's film, story of a widowed husband who goes from Germany to Tokyo to fulfill his late wife's wish to travel to Japan, plays out like a virtual remake of Ozu's best loved film "Tokyo Story". Now, according to a report posted at Tokyograph one of Japan's most respected filmmakers is gearing up to bring us his own take on Ozu's 1953 masterpiece.

Yoji Yamada (above left), the man behind Shochiku's long-running "Tora-san" series, as well as "The Twilight Samurai" and "The Hidden Blade", has announced that he will be making a film based around the plot of Ozu's "Tokyo Story" involving an elderly couple and their relationship with their daughter-in-law, widowed after her husband and the couple's son dies while fighting overseas. There's no news of a cast or even a title for this project yet, but apparently filming will take place between April and June in Japan with a theatrical release slated for early 2012. Yamada isn't just content with a cinematic homage to "Tokyo Story" though. He is also set to direct a stage adaption of Ozu's film at Tokyo's Mitsukoshi Theater next year.

If find it interesting that Yamada is taking on a tribute to the work of Ozu so shortly after remaking the work of another Japanese film master. At the beginning of this year Yamada directed his own version of Kon Ichikawa's classic 1960 drama "Otouto (Younger Brother)" with Sayuri Yoshinaga, Tsurube Shofukutei and Yu Aoi in the lead roles. That film wasn't met with much praise by critics, so to take on an even loftier film legacy so quickly might be an indication of being very brave or very misguided. I guess we'll have to wait until 2012 to see which ends up being the result.

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