From critically acclaimed German filmmaker Wim Wenders, Tokyo-Ga follows the director as he travels to Japan to pay homage to his idol, Yasujirô Ozu. Ozu’s films such as Tokyo Chorus, Tokyo Story and Late Spring have had such a major influence on Wenders’ cinematographic style that he declares in the film that Ozu is “his only master” in this art form. Wenders didn’t actually encounter Ozu’s work until he had already established himself as a filmmaker, nevertheless the influence is clearly noted in Wenders’ early narrative films such as Kings of the Road and Wrong Move.
As Wenders travels to Japan in Tokyo-Ga he visits many of the locations seen in Ozu’s films, 20 years after his death, re-capturing them beautifully through this new perspective. He claims to have been in search of the remnants of old Japan, which Wenders believes is disappearing. During his pilgrimage bizarre sequences show uniquely Japanese customs such as creating plastic models of food for use in window displays and the popularity of Zen pokie-like pachinko parlours.
The somewhat infamous film director Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man, Rescue Dawn) makes a surprise appearance in Tokyo-Ga, standing atop the Tokyo Tower with Wenders discussing cinematography and the search for ‘adequate images’. Wenders also talks to Ozu’s loyal camera assistant, Yuharu Atsuta as he retells stories of his long-time friend and colleague from even the early periods of Silent Cinema.
Tokyo-Ga is a truly fascinating observational documentary and a comment on the ever changing social dynamics of our world. Although some of the customs that Yasujirô Ozu observed in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s have now radically changed, the stories he told through his films are timeless.
Wenders not only pays homage to this great icon of the industry in Tokyo-Ga but also mirrors himself as one of the all-time great auteurs as well.