Combining three prevalent genres of the day—the student comedy, the salaryman film, and the domestic drama—Ozu created this warmhearted family comedy, and demonstrated that he was truly coming into his own as a cinema craftsman. The setup is simple: Low wage–earning dad Okajima is depending on his bonus, and so are his wife and children, yet payday doesn’t exactly go as planned. Exquisite and economical, Ozu’s film alternates between brilliantly mounted comic sequences and heartrending working-class realities. —The Criterion Collection
Yasujiro Ozu was born in the old Fukagawa district of Tokyo, to a fertilizer merchant, in 1903. In 1923, after a couple of years as an assistant teacher in rural Japan, Ozu was hired as assistant cameraman at the Shochiku Motion Picture Company. Early in his career, Ozu began to experiment with an idiosyncratic film style that ran contrary to the conventions of Japanese or Hollywood cinema of the day. He strove to reduce and simplify his film style; he cast such mainstays as the fade, the dissolve, and the pan from his cinematic palette. He shot solely from a low camera angle, using a 50mm lens, and he subordinated spatial continuity to visual aesthetics. Ozu directed his first film in 1927,The Sword of Penitence. In 1932, he began to hit his creative stride with the touching comedy I Was Born, But…, which was his first commercial success. During World War II, he made few films such as There Was a Father.
After the war, Ozu reached his creative peak and made some of his finest… read more
The 37th and final Ozu film I've seen is this warm and touching family comedy which is at times melancholic but is always beautifully judged by the Master and is one of his finest Silent films. In an excellent ensemble cast look out for a very cute pre-fame Hideko Takamine as the hero's young daughter. As a sad postscript, lead actor Tokihiko Okada was dead within three years of the film's release from tuberculosis..
Yes, Ozu is complete! It's my nature when I like a director to try and see everything they've ever done. I've now seen all of Kurosawa, Bresson and all films of Fassbinder that achieved a theatrical release. My sights are now firmly set on the last half a dozen or so Mizoguchi films I've yet to see. But they're difficult to track down..... :(
Finally, I can call Yasujiro Ozu one of my favorite directors. This early film doesn't have the beautiful color cinematography of GOOD MORNING, or the lovely compositions of TOKYO TWILIGHT, but it more than makes up for it with its heart and relevance. He is difficult to get into, yes, but he grows on you with time and experience. I expect the next film I see by him to be one of my all time favorites.