I Was Born, But...

I Was Born, But... ★★★★

My fifth Yasujiro Ozu film. This is included on the Criterion release of Good Morning as a bonus feature, which is how I watched it. This movie is a very good companion piece to that one, considering Good Morning uses some of the same ideas and shots (I wouldn't go as far as to call it a remake, but it does reuse some central ideas). This is by far the oldest Ozu film I've seen and the oldest Japanese film in general, but I'm really surprised and glad to see how much it fully feels like an Ozu film even 17 years before Late Spring (the next oldest that I've seen). Even without color, sound, Chishu Ryu, or Setsuko Hara, this movie has all of the hallmarks of his gentle, pastoral style of storytelling with a bit of serious societal commentary towards the end, all presented from the perspective of children who (reasonably) don't understand why the hierarchy of grown-ups in the real world doesn't work the same way it does on the playground. Importantly, even though it doesn't exactly go full 'eat the rich' at the end, it's far from an endorsement of the system of inherited wealth and validates the frustration of lower-class people whose superiors are only their superiors because they have rich parents.
That stuff aside, it also just looks like an Ozu movie on a technical level, which is to say impeccably framed 100% of the time (although there's a lot more camera movement here than, say, Tokyo Story).
I mostly went into this expecting an idle curiosity early look at an important director, but it's definitely worth watching for fans of his work.

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