Good Morning

Japan 1959, 93 mins
Director: Yasujiro Ozu

Devoted to both the profound necessity and the sublime silliness of gratuitous social interchange, Good Morning (Ohayo) is a rather subtler and grander work than might appear at first. Commonly referred to as a remake of Ozu’s silent masterpiece I Was Born but…, it is as interesting for its differences as for its similarities. The focus of the earlier film is a family adapting to a new neighbourhood by undergoing brutal social initiations: the father humiliates himself before his boss to get ahead while the sons are accepted by their peers only after humiliating a local bully. Shocked by the behaviour of their father, who says that he has to demean himself in order to feed them, the sons retaliate by going on a hunger strike.

In the lighter climate of Good Morning, 27 years later, the setting is again middle-class Tokyo suburbia, but the central family is firmly settled, and serious problems – whether old age, unemployment or ostracism – are principally reserved for their neighbours and friends. The sons’ complaint this time is that their parents won’t purchase a TV set and that grown-ups talk too much; the form of their rebellion is refusing to speak. Significantly, it is the humiliations in the first film which provide much of the comedy, a subject assuming gravity only when it causes a rift between father and sons. But the more pervasive humour of Good Morning extends to the rebellion itself and all it engenders, as well as the various local intrigues surrounding it.

Clearly one of Ozu’s most commercially-minded movies – with its stately, innocuous muzak of xylophone and strings recalling Tan backgrounds, a similar tendency to keep repeating gags with only slight variations, and a performance of pure ham (quite rare in an Ozu film) by the delightful Masahiko Shimazu as the younger brother – its intricacy becomes apparent only when one realises that each detail intimately links up with every other. Rhythmically, this is expressed by the alternation of simply stated (if interlocking) mini-plots with complex camera set-ups, less bound by narrative advancement, depicting the physical layout of the neighbourhood itself: the perpendicular passageways between houses and the overhead road on the embankment behind brilliantly suggesting certain structures as well as strictures in a society of interdependent yet insulated busybodies.

In a context where banal greetings among neighbours, schoolboy farting contests and sweet nothings between a couple are treated as structural equivalents, and sliding doors and shot changes become integral facets of the same ‘architecture’ – an interrelating complex of adjacent, autonomous units – the fascination is how even throwaway details become part of the design. A poster for The Defiant Ones, for instance, alludes not only to the recalcitrant sons, but the sense of antagonistic parties chained together by circumstance which often seems to function just below the surface of the everyday pleasantries. A grandmother muttering gripes between her prayers, a drunken Tomizawa coming home to the wrong house, the young scat-singing couple being quietly hounded out of the community, a thoughtful Keitaro wondering if TV will ‘produce 100 million idiots’ or pondering his future retirement: all these moments are characteristically uninflected, and each goes straight to the heart of the film.

Mainly designed to look as casual and as inconsequential as its title, Good Morning gleefully embraces a world that I Was Born but… can acknowledge only painfully. With a father figure at the centre of its constellation – Chishu Ryu, as Keitaro – who is exempt from ridicule, it neither seeks nor finds any comparable reasons for serious doubts or despair. Yet thanks to the precision and consistency of the vision, Ozu can take up all the other grinning denizens of this discreetly closed world and pin their endearing absurdities neatly into place.
Jonathan Rosenbaum, Monthly Film Bulletin, November 1975

Director: Yasujiro Ozu
Production Company: Shochiku Co. Ltd.
Producer: Shizuo Yamanouchi
Assistant Director: Kozo Tashiro
Screenplay: Kogo Noda, Yasujiro Ozu
Director of Photography: Yuharu Atsuta
Colour Technician: Motoshige Oikawa
Lighting: Akira Aomatsu
Camera Assistant: Yoshitsugu Tonegawa
Editor: Yoshiyasu Hamamura
Art Director: Tatsuo Hamada
Film Stock: Agfa-Shochikucolor
Music: Toshiro Mayuzumi
Sound Recording: Yoshisaburo Senoo
Studio: Shochiku Ofuna

Keiji Sada (Heichiro Fukui, English Teacher)
Yoshiko Kuga (Setsuko Arita, Tamiko’s sister)
Chishu Ryu (Keitaro Hayashi)
Kuniko Miyake (Tamiko Hayashi)
Haruko Sugimura (Kikue Haraguchi)
Koji Shitara (Minoru, Hayashi’s elder son)
Masahiko Shimazu (Isamu, Hayashi’s younger son)
Kyôka Izumi (Midori Maruyama)
Toyo Takahashi (Shige Okubo)
Sadako Sawamura (Kayoko Fukui)
Eijirô Tono (Tomizawa)
Teruko Nagaoka (Tomizawa’s wife)
Eiko Miyoshi (Grandmother Haraguchi)
Haruo Tanaka (Haraguchi)
Akira Oizumi (Akira Maruyama)
Hajime Shirata (Kozo Harada)
Masuo Fujiki (Zen)
Fujio Suga, Taiji Tonoyama, Keijiro Morozumi, Mutsuko Sakura, Hoichi Takeda, Toshio Shimamura, Tsusai Sugawara

Japan 1959
93 mins

Tokyo Story (Tōkyō monogatari)
From Fri 1 Sep
I Flunked, But… (Rakudai wa shitakeredo)
Sat 2 Sep 16:15; Wed 13 Sep 20:35
Tokyo Chorus (Tōkyō no kōrasu)
Sat 2 Sep 18:30; Sun 17 Sep 16:00
An Autumn Evening with Yasujirō Ozu
Mon 4 Sep 18:15
I Was Born, But… (Umarete wa mita keredo)
Mon 4 Sep 20:30 (+ intro by Jinhee Choi, King’s College London); Fri 15 Sep 18:30
Tokyo Twilight (Tōkyō boshoku)
Thu 7 Sep 18:00; Wed 27 Sep 20:15
The Only Son (Hitori musuko)
Fri 8 Sep 20:40; Sat 16 Sep 18:10 (+ intro by season curator Ian Haydn Smith)
A Story of Floating Weeds (Ukigusa monogatari)
Sat 9 Sep 11:50; Sat 23 Sep 16:00
Good Morning (Ohayō)
Sat 9 Sep 18:10; Sat 30 Sep 20:40
Floating Weeds (Ukigusa)
Sat 9 Sep 20:30; Sun 1 Oct 11:30 BFI IMAX; Mon 2 Oct 18:00
Late Spring (Banshun)
Sun 10 Sep 12:15 (+ intro by season curator, Ian Haydn Smith); Fri 22 Sep 20:50
Early Summer (Bakushu)
Sun 10 Sep 15:00; Wed 13 Sep 14:30; Sat 23 Sep 20:35
Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family (Todake no kyōdai)
Mon 11 Sep 18:00; Sat 30 Sep 18:20
There Was a Father (Chichi ariki)
Mon 11 Sep 20:40; Thu 28 Sep 18:20
City Lit at BFI: Ozu: Cinema of Everyday Life
Tue 12 Sep – 3 Oct 18:30-20:30
Record of a Tenement Gentleman (Nagaya Shinshiroku)
Tue 12 Sep 20:30; Wed 20 Sep 21:00; Sat 23 Sep 18:30
Early Spring (Sōshun)
Thu 14 Sep 20:10; Sun 1 Oct 18:00
The Flavour of Green Tea Over Rice (Ochazuke no aji)
Fri 15 Sep 20:45; Sat 30 Sep 15:30
The Anatomy of Ozu
Sat 16 Sep 12:00-17:00
Late Autumn (Akibiyori)
Sun 17 Sep 18:20; Sat 30 Sep 12:30
Equinox Flower (Higanbana)
Thu 21 Sep 18:00; Sun 1 Oct 15:10
An Autumn Afternoon (Sanma no aji)
Sun 24 Sep 18:25 (+ intro); Tue 3 Oct 20:45

Influence and Inspiration
Make Way for Tomorrow
Sat 2 Sep 12:40; Sun 24 Sep 15:50 (+ intro by season curator Ian Haydn Smith)
Sun 3 Sep 14:00; Mon 2 Oct 20:45

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