Yasujiro Ozu Derek Elley

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Derek Elley

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In Ohayo the premise is [the same as in I Was Born, But …]: the young children are seen as free-thinking spirits, while the adults are portrayed as encumbered by gossip, status and meaningless small talk. The rebellion of Minoru and Isamu against their parents' apparent obsession with greetings like 'Good Morning', 'Good Evening', 'Hello', and the rest, takes the form of a refusal to talk to anyone; that this 'rebellion' is, in fact, motivated more by their desire to force their parents to buy a TV set so they can watch sumo wrestling than by any deep seated resentment or conviction provides the main comic base for the film—flimsy, insubstantial, but far from trivial in its own way. Ozu never makes his plot carry more weight than it is fit to bear, and one is consequently never aware of any dramatic strain….

[One] is made very much more aware of the actors as people rather than directorial objects, and with either the tatami mat or ground level invariably in view, there is a powerful sense of being rooted to the action…. Ozu is concerned with the unspectacular and everyday—not necessarily in the sense of workaday, but rather in the sense of those areas often overlooked by film-makers for their supposed lack of dramatic malleability.

In Ohayo Ozu fixes on small-talk as a springboard for several matters: its temporary importance as a field for 'rebellion' by a maturing child, the devastating consequences when small-talk is placed under the microscope and taken seriously, and the equally serious consequences when it is overlooked as worthless (the parents' disregard of Minoru's stand)…. The comedy of the boys' self-imposed silence has considerable charm: the young...

(The entire section is 421 words.)