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Good Morning (1959) - Yasujiro Ozu // Movie Night


My goodness, what a delightful film.

Good Morning is about a tightly-knit Japanese town in the 1950s, centered around one specific family. The mother deals with the miscommunication in regards to the monthly dues they pay to live in their house. The father struggles to provide for their family. The aunt is clearly in love with a man in their community but is to nervous to initiate anything. And the two brothers take a vow of silence in protest of their family's refusal to purchase a television for them.

I realize now as I typed up that summary that this could very easily have been a dark drama about the difficulties of suburban life in a post-war Japan and the encroaching Western influence that is becoming more and more impossible to ignore. Ozu chose to make a lighthearted comedy instead and the film is all the more remarkable because of that decision.

One of the biggest upsides to the whole film is strength of the ensemble performance. Every single player has a unique charisma to their character, made even more remarkable when considering how many child actors had roles. Even the youngest brother (seen frame left, above), who mustn't have been older than six at the time of shooting, is extremely captivating. It help when he is quite possibly the most adorable kid I've ever seen.

The unsung hero of this entire film however, is Ozu's frames. Everything has storybook kind of symmetry and are striking in their simplicity. Wes Anderson before Wes Anders (less quirky though). The composition goes a long way to cementing the cheerful tone, firmly keeping the film from tipping into a commonwealth Greek tragedy. I mean, just look at that shot above; its evocative but only of pleasant thoughts and the deeper-than-usual focus illuminates the idea of this family environment being cramped and constrictive PLUS the performances on display in just a single image brings in the overly-dramatic nature of childhood.

This was the first Ozu movie I have seen and I will be revisiting this director's work in the future.


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©2019 BY ZACHARY J. TERRELL