Tokyo Imagine rebuilding a huge metropolis blasted to smouldering ruins by saturation bombing. That's the undertaking explored in Vision of Tokyo in Twenty Years, a documentary from 1946 that records the enormous urban reconstruction project. 'We have to plan our future,' says the narrator as he describes three comically optimistic architectural scenarios: sunny town, fun city and a capital where 'neighbours will love each other'. Few Tokyoites would later use the adjectives sunny or fun to describe their hastily rebuilt jungle of squat concrete bunkers and ticker-tape highways, and it hardly overflows with neighbourly love either. But watching the 50 or so movies selected for a special section of the 2007 Tokyo Film Festival, called How Tokyo was portrayed in post-WWII cinema, which ended today, is to marvel that this city has been resurrected at all, if not always according to plan. Tokyo is the backdrop for the six-decade retrospective, transformed from the squalid landscape of sackcloth and shadows depicted in Vision to the gleaming glass-and-concrete metropolis of last year's Retribution, the most recent entry. 'There are a lot of movies set in Tokyo but we wanted to focus on movies that feature the city as a character,' says programming producer Michio Morioka. The filmic journey is haunted by an odd counter-intuitive transformation: from the desperate optimism of the post-war years to the malaise and ennui that afflict its incomparably richer citizens today. That early optimism is evident in the mini-masterpiece Downtown (1957), starring Toshiro Mifune. For some, the actor dubbed Japan's Marlon Brando will forever be the hot-tempered warrior of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954), but here he's a soft-hearted labourer who returns from war and strikes up a doomed love affair with a lonely widow. Mifune becomes the embodiment of the post-war Tokyo everyman: poor, hard-working and struggling against huge odds to rebuild his life. It seems safe to assume that this is the uncomplicated vision of the city's past preferred by its current governor, conservative politician Shintaro Ishihara, who's one of the retrospective's key patrons. The Tokyo government and the trade and economy ministry pumped millions of dollars into the festival in an attempt to promote the local film industry and prime worldwide audiences for one of Ishihara's pet projects: securing Tokyo the rights to host the 2016 Olympics. The city intends to send a package of subtitled movie highlights around the world once the festival ends. But any suspicions that this official cash has forced the organisers to pull their artistic punches are dispelled by a glance down the list of movies. Here is Tokyo in all its magnificent, sexy and sometimes murky glory. Mifune can also be seen in Kurosawa's Stray Dog (1949) as a cop hunting for his stolen gun in the city's sweltering streets, which teem with beggars and thieves. Pacifism, protest, some of the greatest anti-war movies ever made (including Between War & Peace from 1947) and even the underground soft porn (Roman Porno) movement of the 1960s and 70s are here. A young Ishihara is present, too, in his previous incarnation as an actor, playing the unflattering role of an unscrupulous journalist in Dangerous Hero (1957). 'There was absolutely no attempt to censor what we did,' Morioka says. 'We made our selection based on the artistic merits of the movies, and their relationship to the city. The movies had to be critically acclaimed or they didn't go in.' The retrospective included four rarely seen foreign movies, including Wim Wenders' quirky Tokyo-Ga (1985), a sort of documentary love letter to a city he clearly worships. The cinematic tour ends with Kiyoshi Kurosawa's hybrid detective/horror story Retribution, featuring Koji Yakusho as another cop investigating the murder of a woman on the shores of Tokyo Bay. Ostensibly a simple whodunnit, the movie quickly morphs into something more disturbing as it depicts a series of random, cold-blooded murders. In one scene, a doctor drugs and drowns his sullen teenage son, later telling police he 'couldn't control' him. With its disturbing echoes of the inter-family killings that have plagued post-bubble Japan and its tortured central character, who may or may not be a murderer himself, Retribution is hardly an international calling card for the city's Olympic Committee. The film's air of dread is accentuated by the earthquakes that periodically erupt underneath the characters' feet, as though the city's foundation is in danger of collapsing. But tension, uncertainty and death have always been very much part of this city's historical narrative. 'A lot of us are worried about where Tokyo and its people are going,' says Morioka. 'We have to reflect those concerns, too.'