Thursday, November 28, 2013

I Was Born, But...

Directed by Yasujiro Ozu and written by Ozu and Akira Fushimi, I Was Born, But… is the story of two boys whose love for his father is shaken when they learn of the way he treats himself to his boss. The film is an exploration of boys dealing with the role of their father and how their ideas of him are shattered by reality. Starring Tatsuo Saito, Tomio Aoki, and Hideo Sugawara. I Was Born, But… is an enchanting yet engrossing film from Yasujiro Ozu.

The film is essentially the story of a family moving to the suburbs where the father gets a very important job while his two sons adjust to their newfound home as they have to deal with bullies and such. Yet, they also have to learn about what their father does as they’re forced to face the realities of what he has to do for his boss. It’s a simple story that might seem like a mundane idea yet Yasujiro Ozu and co-writer Akira Fushimi create something that manages to quite captivating. Especially as its first half is about Keiji (Tomio Aoki) and his older brother Ryoichi (Hideo Sugawara) being the new kids as they’re bullied and feel lonely. Yet, they’ve managed to find ways to adjust to their situation where they befriend Taro (Seiichi Kato) whose father (Takeshi Sakamoto) is the boss of Keiji and Ryoichi’s father Chichi (Tatsuo Saito). The second half is about the boys learning about what their father does and what he had to do which is something that becomes uneasy to deal with.

Ozu’s direction is very simplistic in the way he creates compositions to capture the life of a family. Yet, it contains many of the visual attributes that he would do in his later films though he would utilize a lot of dolly shots for the scenes where the kids are walking on the road or to capture the atmosphere of the office that Chichi works at. Still, Ozu find ways to capture the intimacy of this family while keeping things naturalistic in the way children interact and such as well as showcasing the kind of mischief they do. Even as it would play to somber moments where the boys argue who has the better dad where it would play into Keiji and Ryoichi’s realization about their father. Overall, Ozu creates a very mesmerizing yet powerful comedy-drama about two boys’ relationship with their father.

Cinematographer/editor Hideo Shigehara does amazing work with the film‘s black-and-white photography to play into the suburban world the kids live in while maintaining a straightforward approach to the editing with the exception of the home movie Chichi‘s boss was showing. Art director Takashi Kono, with set decorators Yoshiro Kimura and Takejiro Tsunoda, does excellent work with the set pieces such as the home of Chichi and his family as well as some of the surroundings they live in. The film’s music by Donald Sosin is terrific for its piano-based score that is largely comical at times but also somber in the more dramatic moments as it is something that is typical with the silent films of the early 20th Century.

The film’s cast is brilliant as it includes some notable small roles from Shoichi Kofujita as the kind delivery boy, Seiji Nishimura as the boys’ teacher, Takeshi Sakamoto as Chichi’s boss Iwasaki, and Seiichi Kato as Iwasaki’s eccentric son Taro. Mitsuko Yoshikawa is wonderful as Ryoichi and Keiji’s mother who tries to get everyone to calm down and make sense of everything that is happening. Tomio Aoki and Hideo Sugawara are excellent in their respective roles as Keiji and Ryoichi as two boys trying to deal with their new home as well as what they would learn about their father. Finally, there’s Tatsuo Saito in a superb performance as Chichi as a man trying to do right for his family and keep his sons in check while dealing with the fact that the things he does for his boss has him questioning his worth for his sons.

I Was Born, But… is a marvelous film from Yasujiro Ozu. The film is a very touching yet intimate portrait about the ideas of father and what they mean to their boys as well as the reality that they have to face. Even as it is told with such care that it is engaging to audiences of all ages. In the end, I Was Born, But… is a fantastic film from Yasujiro Ozu.

Yasujiro Ozu Films: (Sword of Penitence) - (Days of Youth) - Tokyo Chorus - (Dragnet Girl) - Passing Fancy - (A Mother Should Be Loved) - A Story of Floating Weeds - (An Inn in Tokyo) - (The Only Son) - (What Did the Lady Forget?) - (Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family) - (There Was a Father) - Record of a Tenement Gentleman - (A Hen in the Wind) - Late Spring - Early Summer - (The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice) - Tokyo Story - Early Spring - Tokyo Twilight - (Equinox Flower) - Good Morning - Floating Weeds - Late Autumn - The End of Summer - An Autumn Afternoon

© thevoid99 2013

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