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Tokyo Story

Every ten years since 1952, the British Film Institute (BFI) has polled film directors and critics to determine the greatest film of all time. In the recently published results of the 2012 survey, a Japanese film topped the directors’ poll, and ranked third in the critics’ poll.

Tokyo Story (Tōkyō monogatari; 東京物語) was directed by Yasujirō Ozu (小津安二郎) in 1953. It features an elderly couple who travel to Tokyo to visit their grown-up children, but find them too preoccupied with their own lives to care for their parents. However, they are treated more warmly by their widowed daughter-in-law.

Shot in Ozu’s characteristic style (low camera viewpoint, little or no camera movement), the film presents a thought-provoking and rather sad portrait of changing family values in post-war Japan. It is widely regarded as Ozu’s masterpiece. Do watch it if you get the chance.

A  subtitled version of the film has been uploaded to YouTube, but I won’t embed it here as I’m not sure it’s all above board in terms of copyright (although the film would definitely be in the public domain by now had it been released in 1952). Besides, I think this film would be best enjoyed from the comfort of your sofa rather than sitting at the computer.

Instead, here’s the film’s trailer. It’s in Japanese only, I’m afraid, but I just had to put it here because it’s now possible for YouTube to automatically transcribe Japanese audio and convert it into English by machine translation. The results are hilarious (and complete gibberish). To enable them in the video below, click the “CC” button and choose “Japanese (transcribed)”. Then click it again and choose “Translate Captions”.

For posterity, I’ve reproduced the machine-generated captions below.

0:03 Wind
0:11 Two
0:12 For that to be a problem in
0:14 I think Figure 4 wine glasses
0:17 Such long
0:18 All of the fans want
0:21 2304's. Of high
0:24 I have not bought a number of
0:33 After the
0:34 Draft management
0:46 Freedom of speech is
0:48 Defense Minister effortlessly bdf
0:51 Law of one price in the evening
0:54 Country were entrusted the damage
0:59 Ali was
1:01 Severe
1:03 Tokyo Gas is often ecb-liter container
1:07 Rapidly
1:09 than etc
1:11 Canned coffee
1:13 Was held in Tokyo
1:15 Important friends is not easy
1:17 That this
1:20 Rather than a day too early
1:26 Proposals come as professional baseball park girls
1:30 I get no cut from getting
1:32 Do not give up
1:35 That a series in Tokyo
1:37 Then
1:38 I've been doing since
1:39 How much has been made
1:41 This only moved
1:46 At this rate was not
1:54 Lol
2:00 Paper
2:07 Recently
2:09 Now it
2:10 On the other hand eye
2:13 Page transition has been made
2:19 Since the
2:21 Avalanche
2:23 A point a point
2:33 Bitter experience
2:35 ...
2:37 And criticism, such as thank you
2:39 Co-
2:41 I found the complete human
2:44 pl academy
2:46 Became a high-stage
2:47 Was found
2:52 2005
2:55 This
2:56 What
3:00 -
3:01 Eye 4 in this prefecture
3:03 It is said that until such a thing
3:07 0 home runs
3:12 Heavy upside
3:17 On the other hand was
3:25 Yeah
3:30 Co-
3:31 doga.l
3:34 Yeah
3:39 Yeah
3:47 Yeah
3:47 I will be able to use
3:51 To 4
3:53 f1
3:58 Perform the operation
4:01 Sentence
4:10 Yeah
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Header image: Maple leaves and bamboo stems in autumn at Tenryū-ji garden (天龍寺庭園) in Kyoto. Photo: Frank Gualtieri.

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