• From An Inn in Tokyo

This Saturday at noon, the Music Box will screen Yasujiro Ozu’s An Inn in Tokyo (1935) in its monthly silent-cinema series. It’s a special movie in a number of ways: not only was it the last silent film made by Ozu—one of the greatest of Japanese filmmakers—it was one of the last Japanese silent films, period. And since it’s estimated that 90 percent of Japanese movies made before 1945 are forever lost, it’s one of relatively few examples of its kind still in existence. The silent era lasted longer in Japan than in any other nation, due to the enduring popularity of benshi, live narrators who would explicate the on-screen action and provide voices for the characters. (About a decade ago, Roger Ebert re-created this phenomenon by organizing a benshi-accompanied screening of Ozu’s I Was Born, But… at the Chicago International Film Festival; to my knowledge, no one in Chicago has attempted anything similar since.)