Yasujiro Ozu’s I Was Born, But… is the director’s most well-known silent feature and one of his most beloved films. The wry comedy plays on Sunday, January 9 on Turner Classic Movies as part of its Sunday Night Silents series. I wrote an essay for the screening.
Japan had a vibrant national cinema and busy film industry during the silent era but sadly only a very small percentage of those films survive. Of the films that are available, Yasujiro Ozu’s 1932 I Was Born, But… is among the most famous and beloved and remains the best known of Ozu’s silent movies. This “picture book for grown-ups” (as the opening titles read) is a hilarious comedy of wills between the two wily young sons of salaryman Yoshi (Tatsuo Saito) as they move to a Tokyo suburb for the father’s new job and prepare to enter a new school. But underneath the comedy is a bittersweet family comedy that offers social satire through its view of the adult social order through the eyes of children.
Read the complete feature here. Also available on DVD as part of a box set from Criterion’s Eclipse imprint.