Cherry Blossoms (2009): Doris (Men) Dorrie’s Tale, Inspired by Ozu and McCarey

Partially shot in Japan, Doris Dorrie’s “Cherry Blossoms” is the tender, moving tale of Trudi (Hannelore Elsner) and Rudi (Elmar Wepper, Best Actor of the German Film Awards), a long-married couple who travel to Berlin from the countryside to visit their children and grandchildren only to realize that they are emotionally distant and unavailable.

With credits, such as “Men,” “Me and Him,” “Am I Beautiful” and “Naked,” Dörrie’s is one of Germany’s foremost filmmakers.  Her latest film is an emotionally intense, profoundly moving story of marital love.  


The film was inspired by (and pays tribute to) Yasujiron Ozu’s classic “Tokyo Story” (1953), which itself was a retelling of the 1937 American film, Leo McCarey’s “Make Way for Tomorrow.”


As a road movie, “Cherry Blossom” goes from the West to the East, and then from the East to the West.  Thus, when Trudi unexpectedly dies, a grief-stricken Rudi vows to honor her unfulfilled desires by embarking on a life-changing journey to Japan, a place Trudi had often dreamed about but never visited. 


A trip to Tokyo in the midst of the cherry blossom festival sparks an unlikely friendship with Yu, a young Butoh dancer who takes an interest in him even though they don’t speak the same language.  In due time, she helps connect Rudi with his wife’s lifelong love for the dance.


Culminating with a pilgrimage to the iconic fog-shrouded Mount Fuji, “Cherry Blossoms” is ultimately a poignant celebration of new beginnings and the metaphor for the impermanence of life.


This is the third film, after “Enlightenment Guarantee” and “The Fisherman and His Wife,” which Dorrie had shot in Japan.  Dorrie explores the interrelated themes of love and loss in a lighthearted way, raising such universal questions as: Does impermanence teach us to see things the way they really are Is it possible to enjoy the present moment in the face of death What makes us blossom and what makes us wither


Ozu’s lifelong subject, exploration of the family as an institution, is appropriated with subtlety by Dorrie in a film that bears extra personal meaning, due to the death of her husband (who had served as the cinematographer of her work).  Though “Cherry Blossoms” is too soft and occasionally sentimental and cute to be placed on the same league as Ozu’s and McCarey’s films, at the very least it should encourage to viewers to revisit “Tokyo Story,” one of the seminal works in film history.




Rudi Elmar Wepper

Trudi Hannelore Elsner

Franzi Nadja Uhl

Karl Maximilian Brückner

Yu Aya Irizuki

Karolin Birgit Minichmayr

Klaus Felix Eitner

Emma Floriane Daniel

Celine Celine Tannenberger

Robert Robert Döhlert

Butoh-Dancer Tadashi Endo




Writer-Director Doris Dörrie

Producers: Molly von Fürstenberg, Harald Kügler

Director of Photography: Hanno Lentz

Costumes: Sabine Greuning

Editors: Inez Regnier

Frank Müller

Music: Claus Bantzer

Associate Producers: Patrick Zorer, Ruth Stadler

Casting: Nessie Nesslauer