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

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

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January 2, 2017
This latter-day silent film, Umarete wa mita keredo, is interesting for its prewar Tokyo setting, but it is also interesting to see how little has changed in Japan. This is also attributable to the timeless and universal themes of schoolyard bullies, adult-world politics an hierarchies in human society. Well-crafted and powerful film.
Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
½ October 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.
½ November 4, 2015
The children carry this film in one of the most charming, playful, and adorable ways I've seen. It's truly heartwarming
½ February 3, 2015
A charming yet moody tale with childlike innocence going up against knowing one's place. This slice-of-life story perfectly resonates with modern sensibilities.
½ 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.
½ January 31, 2014
I very entertaining and humorous film looking into the social hierarchy of both school and the work place.
½ 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.
July 20, 2013
Delightful silent film about a family in Japan.
April 14, 2013
Considered by many to be his first masterpiece, Yasujiro Ozu's 'I Was Born, But...' chronicles the beginning of young brothers' coming of age as they discover the complexities and unfairness of adult life through their still youthful eyes. Though it is shaped like a family drama/comedy (as many of his other films are), Ozu separates us from the perspective of the boys' parents for most of the film so as to effectively remind us of the simple purity of seeing things from a child's eyes. The brothers, who are played brilliantly by Hideo Sugawara and Tokkan Kozou, approach problems not through established, civilized human law but instead from a much simpler point of view. When they become angry that their father bows to often to his employer- father to another boy at school- they ask him bluntly why he does so. When he explains that the man pays him his salary, the boys retort: then why don't you start paying his salary instead? Ozu's choice to separate the adults and the children is smart for many reasons, another being that it causes us to consider and evaluate that moment, that age, when we become accepting of things the way they are and decide that fighting them is futile. We aren't given an answer as to what that age or moment is; nor does Ozu condemn the children for their innocence or the adults for their conformity. Instead he asks us to take a little from each viewpoint so that we may think like a child a little more often, but have the patience of an adult who knows that sometimes there are truly no easy solutions to life's seemingly basic problems.
½ February 21, 2013
This is a sincere, complex film. 80 years on, I am surprised by how relatable it is.
August 16, 2012
Quite simply a masterpiece and the most sublime silent movie I have ever had the pleasure to experience. Two young boys realize their father is not perfect and react angrily but hilariously. The child actors are nothing less than perfect themselves. I am so happy I have so much Ozu in front of me.
Super Reviewer
½ 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.
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.
February 11, 2011
Ozu's films are so accessible including his silent films, and yet there are so many who haven't seen any of his works. Blasphemy, I say. With "I Was Born But..." He goes to the perspective of children, 2 brothers who are bullied in school for being new, the misunderstanding of social status, and all leading up to one of the most memorable and heartbreaking confrontations ever, with the children and their father. Definitely a rare film that really captures a child's point of view of the world.
January 24, 2011
Amusing and intelligent. Great.
January 18, 2011
In 1932 the great filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu was still making silent films and would not film a sound picture until 4 years later. I Was Born But... remains a quintessential work from this master craftsman who should be looked at as an example for every filmmaker for making great films that did not fall into overt melodrama. The film is about two young brothers who have moved to the suburbs with their mother and father. Their father has just taken a job here, improving the family's quality of life. The boys find themselves dealing with bullies, school and the usual assortment of difficulties when being the new kids in town. However, eventually they do find friends. The childhood innocence is so clearly shown - the children do not categorize other people by money, as is done in their parents generation. This bothers the brothers when they see their father kissing up to the boss and acting like a clown - they do not understand this "adult" world. Wonderful observations, brilliantly depicted by Ozu certainly leaves the viewer grinning throughout much of the film. I Was Born But... is an early masterpiece that would cement the visual stylings of Ozu - the low-angle stationary camera with minimal or no movement, full face shots, wonderfully choreographed sequences and no dissolves between scenes. An essential piece of cinema, still completely relevant today.
Super Reviewer
January 12, 2011
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)'
Super Reviewer
December 12, 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.
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