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Film Club - Tokyo Story, 1953


I was chilling in the basement, waiting for my next class, when the Student Services team invited all the students there to the screening of the movie Tokyo Story (1953). I was quick to join in, however late, to watch Tokyo Story with the host of the film series, Dr. Anokhin. Popcorn was served to everyone. I’m always thrilled to watch a movie that I don’t know anything about, and in this case I wasn’t even aware of the name of the movie. Yes, not only do blind dates happen but also blind movies. Just like a blind date, I enjoyed the curious adventure of finding out what the movie was about.

Readers, if all of you will allow me, hop on this short ride, and join me on my adventure of curiosity. The movie was in black and white--a tranquilizer to a ubiquitously colored life. The stressors and intonations of words spoken by the characters helped me realize the language was Japanese. The scenes noticeably take place in a small Japanese home where characters spend most of the time sitting on their heels. I started watching the movie late and was only casually watching the scenes, so I couldn’t follow the storyline. However I could grasp a few cultural pieces of information. Adults drank “sake” liquor. The characters viewed Tokyo life as busy and overwhelming. “If we got lost, we would never see each other again,’’ the old woman said to the old man about the city.

I didn’t pay attention to the subtitles. Taking this risk while watching a movie in an unknown language is not a good idea. But it helped me see the uniqueness of facial expressions and emotions in Japanese culture. It was startling to watch on characters’ faces, the folds and curves of happiness, sadness, eagerness, doubt, anger, etc. rather unexpectedly similar to my own culture. In fact, the soul of every human seems to be the same. We are all in the same ocean of emotions, in different cultural boats, perhaps with different destinations.

- Ashi Idicula