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Archive for September 10th, 2015

Road - first scene boys

by Lee Price

Ozu kids. Some are nice, some are bullies; some are natural leaders and others are followers; some are homeless and some appear to be well-provided-for; some come from kind, caring families and others from families that are disintegrating. Except for an occasionally disconcerting mode of stylized crying (both elbows fly up to a 90 degree angle and the fists cover the eyes), they look like kids you might pass on any street, or see playing in the park, or fidgeting across from you on the train or bus.

One could easily populate a playground with the kids in Yasujiro Ozu (1903-1963) films. They’re a natural part of the Ozu landscape, and therefore—over a career that spanned the direction of more than fifty films from 1928 to 1962—you often find children weaving into and out of the films’ backgrounds and foregrounds. In I Was Born, But… (1932), they are front and center.

The antics of the children are the primary engine behind the movie’s comedy, with Ozu building upon Hollywood ideas which he freshly adapts to the flat fields of the Japanese suburbs. The roaming gang of children and the friendly neighborhood dog inevitably recall the popular Our Gang comedies of the time, the gang is frequently photographed in tight ensemble shots that look like parodies of early Hollywood gangster films, and an appreciation for Chaplin setups is apparent throughout. (more…)

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