Yasujiro Ozu’s Good Morning is a cute little film. It’s a comedy set in 50s Japan and it’s seriously like a microcosm of that era. The story is built around 2 children who take an oath to stay silent after being scolded for demanding a television. They feel that adults are hypocritical, only capable of spouting useless and pointless greetings to one another even if they don’t mean them at all. From this simple action, a host of problems ensue that create a little bit of chaos in this tiny slice of post war Japan.

Even the framing is like perpetually mid range or close ups and it’s perfectly still. Everything is framed within small spaces. Characters are seen in interstitial spaces rather than broad sweeping landscapes. The neighborhood is set at the foot of a slope, which has the main road leading out. Only when the characters are walking along this road, do you get a glimpse of a smoggy cityscape behind, a silent character in huge contrast to the magnificent color within the tiny neighborhood. You see the kids between the rooftops, you see people framed perfectly within rooms of a house. Everything feels tight and condensed and small scale. Yet, within this smallness, Ozu still manages to present a much larger idea at work, the Americanization of Japan in minute subtle details.

The men are primarily concerned with their jobs and future retirement plans to set money aside. The women gossip incessantly about all manner of trivialities. The kids just wanna watch sumo on the telly. There’s also 2 hippie-ish pyjama clad characters that keep humming Western style cabaret tunes. One of the kids keeps saying “I love you” as one of his greetings. Then there’s the constant to and fro between two possibly in love characters translating documents from English. The kids have to take English classes. There isn’t a direct criticism of this; I mean, nobody even so much as mentions America. Yet, you sense the underlying current of change that is destabilising the social fabric of Japan, whether for better or worse.

I think it’s a curious film because the humour includes fart jokes and one incontinent kid alongside a threatening salesman out-threatened by a knife wielding midwife or the conversation about the weather at the end.

Really really charming, kinda like Yoshiko Kuga, who is irrepressibly cute despite the busted grill and mole.

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