Good Morning (1959)

Good Morning (Ohayo)
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
Written by Kogo Noda and Yasujiro Ozu
1959/Japan
Shochiku Eiga
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental

Keitarô Hayashi: Someone said TV would produce 100 million idiots.

Ozu reaches back to his silent days to direct a pure comedy (with plenty of fart jokes!) in living color.

The setting is a contemporary Tokyo neighborhood.  We get a slice of the lives of various families and a glimpse at neighborhood dynamics, including plenty of backstabbing and gossip.

The story centers around little boys.  The sons of the Hayashi family (perhaps 10 and 5 years old) love nothing better than to go to a neighbor’s house to watch sumo wrestling on TV.  This is forbidden by their parents who want them to be studying.  Finally, the boys revolt.  They repeatedly demand that father (Chisu Ryu) buy them a TV set.  He refuses and tells them to shut up about it.  They respond by going on strike and refusing to speak at all.  Their weird silence does nothing to enhance the family’s standing in the neighborhood.

This funny and charming film is a kind of remake of Ozu’s 1932 silent film, I Was Born But …, with the boys substituting a silence strike for a hunger strike.  There is no marriage drama.  Ozu’s theme of generational divides is embodied in the struggle over the TV, however.  The director’s use of color and composition is as masterful as ever.  Warmly recommended.

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6 thoughts on “Good Morning (1959)

  1. “Good Morning” is one of my new favorite movies. I saw it about two years ago and I watched it a second time just a few months ago.

    It’s my favorite Ozu film.

    Those kids are hilarious!

    I talked my mother into watching it. (She watches the occasional foreign film, so I recommend the really good ones. She hated Wild Strawberries but she loved Throne of Blood.) She liked Good Morning well enough, but she was rather outraged by the all the farting.

    • Those kids are all boy! Have you seen the silent original? I loved it so. I watched it for the first time without any sound at all – not even music – and forgot about the silence within the first 5 minutes.

      • I saw it on YouTube, but the sub-titles were off by more than 30 seconds. So I had a huge amount of my brain dedicated to matching the dialogue with stuff that happened 40 seconds before.

        Not the worst YouTube experience I’ve ever had.

        I enjoyed the film well enough but I’ve been wanting to see it again without the mental gymnastics.

        My Spanish is good enough (just barely) that I can watch a movie dubbed in French that has Spanish sub-titles (which is what I did for Tierra sin pan and The Milky Way) and get a kick out of the film (and be proud of my meager bilingual accomplishments).

        But when the sub-titles are out-of-sync with the film, that’s not something I would endure for most filmmakers. But with Ozu, if the alternatives are messed-up sub-titles or not watching it at all, I’ll take the sub-titles.

        • I also find it very irritating on YouTube when the sound goes out of synch with the lips! Somehow it’s not as amusing as when that happens in Singin’ in the Rain …

          Also I’m getting to the end of 1959 and I don’t know if I have the strength to watch The Big Fisherman! It’s a biblical epic and I am afraid. I will watch at least one-half hour though. If I don’t see the whole thing, I will send you an e-mail. I do want to see Susan Kohner dressed an an Arab boy.

          • There’s no shame in not being able to handle The Big Fisherman. I’ve never run into anybody else who’s ever seen it. It’s a unique experience, and every so often, it’s highly entertaining (for all the wrong reasons) for a few minutes here and there. Bit it’s so so so long! Sitting through the whole thing is part of the experience.

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