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

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 23

90%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 987
User image

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

Movie Info

One of the last great Japanese silent films and one of director Yasujiro Ozu's first masterpieces, this gentle family comedy contrasts the complexities of adulthood with a child's innocence. Two young brothers, who are the unquestioned alpha-males of fellow classmates in their suburban Tokyo neighborhood, are outraged by their father's clownish and subservient behavior at his office. As the film progresses, the children come to accept that their father is not a great man, as they imagined, and in the process, they lose some of their innocence. Ozu reworked this film for his 1959 opus Ohayo. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi

Cast

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

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (23)

  • [I Was Born, But . . .] is a master class -- one of the [Ozu's] earliest -- in the art of distilling emotional intensity from quiet lives.

    Sep 23, 2013 | Full Review…
  • Ozu's movie is also smart at levels almost too subtle to discern, perhaps not so much smart as wise.

    Jun 25, 2010 | Full Review…

    Dana Stevens

    Slate
    Top Critic
  • One of those silent black-and-white old movies that makes the subsequent advances in the medium look redundant.

    Jun 25, 2010 | Rating: 4.5/5
  • Watching the first hour of I Was Born, But... (unspooling with a bright, new piano score by Donald Sosin) might remind you of a subdued Our Gang skit, and not unpleasantly.

    Jun 23, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • The film retains a measure of tempered hope, born not simply from the father's command-cum-wish to his slumbering offspring but also from a final act of youthful compassion that binds Ozu's intensely human characters in glass-half-full solidarity.

    Jun 22, 2010 | Full Review…
  • Both the gags and the emotional disappointments are anchored in a sure sense of characterisation that remains wholly fresh, and the pace of the whole film is worthy of Buster Keaton at his best.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic

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

  • Oct 23, 2016
    Who would have thought that a 1932 silent Japanese movie about two little boys would be so entertaining? I found myself mesmerized by their antics, smiling as they made faces and moved about in unison. In the beginning it feels like a very smart version of the Little Rascals, with scenes of bullying and coping with a new school, but it evolves into more than that. The film deals with hierarchy - to their embarrassment, the boys find out their father is subordinate to the father of one of the other boys they know - which has an emphasis in Japanese culture, but boys wanting their fathers to be important is also a universal theme, and the film feels remarkably Western. To watch this film and to consider the American propaganda about the Japanese during WWII is sobering, as is the thought that the child actors would be of age for war in the years to come, but I digress a bit. There is quite a bit to like here. The acting is fantastic, particularly for the period. At a time when overacting in Hollywood was common, here each and every performance seems pitch perfect. The endearing little boys - played by Tomio Aoki and Hideo Sugawara - are outstanding. I was also impressed by the precision of director Yasujiro Ozu's shots. It's really quite intelligent and charming.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 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.
    Luke B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 05, 2011
    Japanese black and white silent film (but you'd barely notice, the characters are so well developed) about a Japanese family moving to the suburbs, the father not being quite as important as his sons think he is, and the sons trying to be top dogs in the local kids gang. Funny and truthful. The lIttle scamps. <img src="http://www.ohcomely.co.uk/blackcat/imagearchive/2200silent%20film%203_store.jpg">
    Lesley N Super Reviewer
  • Nov 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.
    Drew S Super Reviewer

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

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features