Good Morning DVD review
|REVIEWS - DVD REVIEWS|
Yasujiro Ozu creates an engaging depiction of childhood in rebellion against the tedium of the adult world...
One of director Yasujiro Ozu’s few colour films, this 1959 comedy revisits the subjects of his earlier work I Was Born, But... Released in 1932, I Was Born, But... is a black and white silent film detailing the disillusionment of two young boys who realise that their father is debasing himself in front of his new boss, without realising that the power struggles between their peers are simple reflections of those that take place in the adult world. Slightly lighter in tone, Good Morning also addresses the perceived injustices and inconsistencies of the adult world from the point of view of two young boys, but with the added depth and charm that can be achieved when a director as precise as Ozu has sound and colour at his disposal. The squabbling of neighbours is now brought to life with an explosion of bold hues, each engaged in an unspoken conflict to achieve ownership of the brightest pans and similar trifles, whilst the boys establish their pecking order through the ability to break wind at will, rather than the darker method of physical domination employed in I Was Born, But...
This lightness offers a refreshing juxtaposition to the austere and precise cinematography for which Ozu is known. That every shot is so carefully chosen only makes the intermittent schoolyard-humour all the more amusing. It is rare indeed that the camera angles ever move above knee height, with every shot reinforcing the notion that the claustrophobic suburban streets are the entire world for the children who inhabit them. Every prop and piece of scenery has its place and its own reason for being – Ozu draws the viewer into this world so rich in meaning, only to completely wrong-foot them with the inclusion of, for example, a scene where a wife responds to her husband’s wind as if he were calling her. On paper, I’ll readily admit, the gag doesn’t work: in the film it is perfectly executed.
The title of the film derives from the boys’ impotent fury at what they see as the hollow platitudes constantly spouted by adults – “Good morning”, “Nice weather” etc. When the two cause a fuss over being denied a television, they are scolded by their father for talking back and, as they see adults as being the ones that talk too much, they resolve to take a vow of silence. This refusal to engage in social niceties brings a variety of simmering, petty tensions between the neighbours bubbling to the surface.
As with Equinox Flower, Good Morning includes another of Ozu’s films on the disc. In this case, the included movie is I Was Born, But... (both silent and with a newly-composed score) which gives the viewer the wonderful opportunity to see how a director is able to explore his ideas further when he has more tools at his disposal. The package also includes a phenomenally useful and interesting booklet which explores both films in great detail. Reading this booklet before watching either feature will afford a considerably richer experience.
Good Morning is a light-hearted and playful take on childhood insubordination, shot with all of Ozu’s trademark subtlety. It has a slightly more commercial feel than his more stark offerings, but as a unique slice-of-life drama about suburban Japanese life in the late 50s, it is not to be missed. Crucially, it shows how the same idea can be revisited, not just to make a quick buck, but to make a meaningful point.
Good Morning is out now.
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