Good Morning (お早よう)(1959) Director: Yasujiro Ozu Written by: Kogo Noda and Yasujiro Ozu Starring: Koji Shitara, Masahiko Shimazu, Kuniko Miyake, Chishu Ryu, Yoshiko Kuga Running time: 94 minutes Not rated Distributed by: Shōchiku Films Ltd. Japan
Good Morning is one of Ozu’s last films before his death in 1963. He’s considered by many to be one of the greatest directors of all time.
I came across Good Morning rather randomly. I’m sometimes prone to blind pick-ups of movies. I had no idea what this little Japanese movie from 1959 would entail.
It’s one of the most charming movies I have ever seen. It opens with schoolchildren playing a farting game. One of the kids has recurring “trouble” with the game. Farts don’t often show up in the movies, especially if they’re from the 1950s, so this was a source of great fun.
The film goes on to show us Japanese family life of the lower-middle to the upper-middle classes.
What truly shines in the film is how Ozu looks at Japanese society. Manners are key, particularly talk: small talk and gossip. The main child characters rebel against their parents and other adults, protesting their perceived meaningless small talk (hence the title, Good Morning).
The kids are obsessed with watching sumo wrestling on TV, which the parents think will rot their brains.
We also see young adults dealing with unemployment and budding romance, and older workers nearing retirement, grappling with what they’ll do with their lives.
In a tight 94 minutes, Ozu gives us a charming, funny take on Japanese society in the late 1950s.