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Otona no miru ehon - Umarete wa mita keredo (I Was Born, But ) (Children of Tokyo) Reviews

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Luke B

Super Reviewer

September 25, 2011
I Was Born, But... is a wonderfully titled and crafted movie of pure simplicity by the master Ozu. As the title suggests, it's about someone facing the fact that they exist, but they aren't going to achieve anything. Two brothers move with their family so their father can be closer to his boss. The boys get into trouble with the local gang of boys, but soon manage to take control. Just as they are enjoying their triumph, they discover that their father plays the clown for his boss. They see this as a betrayal, and lose respect for their father. During the Ozu Retrospective I've seen Ozu handle dialog, sound, color, and everything else. Here was a nice chance to see him use only his sparse black and white visuals. The story was hilarious and moving. The boys really respect their father, and he encourages them to make something of themselves. Once they find out about his antics, they are not amused. We see the importance of honor and respect, even amongst such young children. The family dynamic is well structured, and even without sound I was completely entranced. Seeing the two boys struggle with the local gang was simply charming. It shows them upsetting the order of the group as the new outsiders. It shows that the need to be accepted never truly leaves us, and the barriers between adults and children aren't so thick and impenetrable. The climax is the young boys giving their father permission to suck up to their boss, and realising he does it for them. So gentle, so sweet, and a little bit sad. Pure Ozu.
rubystevens
rubystevens

Super Reviewer

June 28, 2008
ozu's most successful early film is, believe it or not, an 'our gang' inspired silent comedy with a bit more of a social message. subtitled 'an adult's picture book view,' it's child's eye view of adult society makes for an engaging and fun watch. i like the way ozu never idealizes children. these kids are complete brats! loosely remade with sound and color in 1959 as 'ohayō (good morning)'
Drew S

Super Reviewer

November 15, 2010
A rich, thoughtful exploration of classism as seen through the eyes of children. Removed from the subtlety of Ozu's later work, I Was Born But...trades in reservation for broad emotions, as is often the case when events are filtered through simpler narrators. The sociology is fundamentally intact, and we as a more experienced audience have the opportunity to understand things that fly over the heads of the sons (like a touchingly relatable scene where the boys are completely humiliated by a show of their father's sense of humor), but when you make a film like this you run the risk of overgeneralization. The boys' frustration is understood and justified, and the film wisely tempers it with the gentle insinuation that you can always improve your situation. Despite that, I felt the movie ultimately painted an incomplete portrait of the family's circumstances and what exactly makes the father's subordination so frustrating; surely even children this young understand that everyone has a boss, right? The dilution of the theme makes the movie simpler to approach and grapple with, but not quite as satisfying in the end. The catharsis isn't as easy to apply to our own lives because, well, we aren't kids anymore. Finally, the film's seemingly pro-assimilation ending has a disconcerting ring to it, dovetailing the film into a sort of hopelessness that explodes in the face of its otherwise uplifting tone.

Still, it's funny, likable and underhandedly intelligent, sneaking up on you with its insight. Definitely worth watching.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

January 2, 2009
[font=Century Gothic]Directed by Yasujiro Ozu, "I was Born, But..." is a thoroughly delightful and charming silent movie about two boys, Keiji(Tomio Aoki) and Chounan(Hideo Sugawara), having to adjust to a new neighborhood after their father(Tatsuo Saito) moves his family to be closer to work. The biggest obstacle being a gang of bullies that compels Chounan to come to his younger brother's rescue at one point. So afraid are they of the bullies that they play hooky from school. But a promise was made by Chounan to get an E in calligraphy for his father and the boys create an elaborate forgery. In the end, the movie makes a subtly effective message about the importance of an education. [/font]
May 6, 2008
Nice job, Flixster. Hitting these Eclipses like its your job. I mean, sure, I would have loved a break while I waited for you to enter this in, but I guess I'll just have to review this movie now. That's probably a good thing because the movie is still fresh on my mind.

This is Ozu's The Little Rascals. We see a lot of the themes from Tokyo Chorus play into this movie (right down to the paddling / face-making), but now we see the entire film from the points of view of children. This one is a little different from Tokyo Chorus however. The main thing is that the wife is significantly less of a b*tch in this one, but the husband is far more wishy-washy.

The theme of this movie is the moment you find out that your parents are fallible. Everyone thinks that their father is the best father on the planet when they're younger and it's always disappointing to find out that your dad is only human. I'm not sure if I ever went through this exact thing, but the story is extremely realistic. You feel extremely bad for these kids, but not to a point where you think an injustice is being done. It's that innocence of youth being stripped away naturally, and it's painful to see. Contrast what they feel about their father from the beginning, through their games, and then onward and I dare you not to feel some sympathy. These are real children. It makes total sense why that older child was brought back for Passing Fancy. He brings a real sense of grounding to the movie that probably couldn't have been there otherwise.

This is a very fast moving movie. I'm really not used to that with Ozu. Ozu usually takes a lot of my attention and seems to drag from time to time (but is always, somehow, stunnign). This is a quick paced look at this family's life. I love the dynamic between all of the members of the family. The mother interacts differently with the husband than she does with the children and each family member has a different relationship that is unique from all of the others. What I can't believe is how bratty kids can get. I mean, I am going to be a teacher, so I suppose that I should be used to temper tandrums, but house destruction? Weird.

Finally, this is actually one of Ozu's funniest. How kids interact, while not necessarily objective or absolute, can be related to and the quest for popularity is a fleeting one. It's when one stops trying that fortune falls on him.
April 27, 2014
A most lyrical silent film from Ozu (but not really in his typical camera-rests-on-the-tatami style). We see things from a child's eye view, although this is a tale for adults. Two young brothers cope with the problems of moving to a new suburb in which they are bullied by a few bigger kids, find out that their father acts the fool to get ahead with the boss, go on a (brief) hunger strike, and eventually settle in and accept the way things are. Ozu manages to evoke a heightened reality - more real than reality (with trains whizzing through the background with startling regularity) -- which is enough to make any silent film a classic. However, he also takes time to comment on the injustice of social class relations - and the wisdom imparted from the mouths of babes is more telling than any didactic lesson otherwise taught. A beautiful film from a time long past. Ozu would steal ideas for his late period film, Ohayo (Good Morning) which is nevertheless really different.
January 31, 2014
I very entertaining and humorous film looking into the social hierarchy of both school and the work place.
January 3, 2014
Extremely entertaining silent film. Ozu shows how hard it is to move to a new neighborhood, as well as the pride that a child has in his father.
February 22, 2013
Delightful silent film about a family in Japan.
June 29, 2011
The early pictures by Ozu only prove that a director only makes one movie in his life and then breaks it into little pieces and makes it again. Whether it is silent, sound or color cinema Ozu's pictures are all more or less the same, all carrying the same themes that matter most to him. This, however, would give the wrong impression to someone new to his films but there is always a fresh idea that he manages to incorporate in the most subtle fashion.
Jim E.
November 3, 2010
This excellent little film tells the story of two little boys, brothers, who move to a new place, and who therefore have to go through the process of finding/making their place in a new social order. It's comedic, but has enough serious elements to make it a serious film. It is hard not to like this movie.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

January 2, 2009
[font=Century Gothic]Directed by Yasujiro Ozu, "I was Born, But..." is a thoroughly delightful and charming silent movie about two boys, Keiji(Tomio Aoki) and Chounan(Hideo Sugawara), having to adjust to a new neighborhood after their father(Tatsuo Saito) moves his family to be closer to work. The biggest obstacle being a gang of bullies that compels Chounan to come to his younger brother's rescue at one point. So afraid are they of the bullies that they play hooky from school. But a promise was made by Chounan to get an E in calligraphy for his father and the boys create an elaborate forgery. In the end, the movie makes a subtly effective message about the importance of an education. [/font]
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