The Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family, 1941

On the occasion of the family patriarch’s 69th birthday, the noble and privileged Toda family has assembled for a formal commemorative photograph and a dinner banquet that would prove to be their father’s last. Forced to sell the family home in order to settle their father’s unresolved, business-related debts, Mrs. Toda (Ayako Katsuragi) and the youngest daughter Setsuko (Mieko Takamino) – with a devoted domestic servant (Choko Iida) and mynah bird in tow – are sent to live with the oldest son, Shinichiro (Tatsuo Saito), before being politely passed off from one sibling to another. Expounding on (and prefiguring) similar themes of filial duty and respect to elders as Tokyo Story with the social commentary on the vanishing way of life of the feudal era, socially prominent merchant class (note the samurai clan armor that decorates the hallway of the Toda residence), The Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family is a poignant and graceful film that exemplifies Ozu’s later, more insular, understated, and distilled) gendai-geki home dramas.

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