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I Was Born, But... (1932)

Otona no miru ehon - Umarete wa mita keredo (original title)
Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama | 3 June 1932 (Japan)
The Yoshi family - husband and wife Kennesuke and Haha, a middle manager at an office and a housewife respectively, and their two adolescent sons Keiji and Ryoichi - have just moved from ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tatsuo Saitô ...
Tomio Aoki ...
Keiji (as Tokkan Kozô)
Mitsuko Yoshikawa ...
Haha (Yoshi's Wife)
Hideo Sugawara ...
Ryoichi
Takeshi Sakamoto ...
Juuyaku (Iwasaki, Executive)
Teruyo Hayami ...
Fujin (Iwasaki's wife)
Seiichi Katô ...
Kodomo (Taro) (as Seiichi Kato)
Shôichi Kofujita ...
Kozou (Delivery boy)
Seiji Nishimura ...
Sensei (Teacher)
Zentaro Iijima ...
Asobi nakama (Friend)
Shôtarô Fujimatsu ...
Asobi nakama (Friend)
Masao Hayama ...
Asobi nakama (Friend)
Michio Sato ...
Asobi nakama (Friend)
Kuniyasu Hayashi ...
Asobi nakama (Friend)
Akio Nomura ...
Asobi nakama (Friend)
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Storyline

The Yoshi family - husband and wife Kennesuke and Haha, a middle manager at an office and a housewife respectively, and their two adolescent sons Keiji and Ryoichi - have just moved from the inner city to the suburbs of Tokyo, into the same neighborhood where Kennesuke's boss, Iwasaki, and his family live. The boys get off to a rocky start in their new neighborhood as they end up being bullied by a group of similarly aged boys, led by slightly bigger Kamekichi. Keiji and Ryoichi even secretly play hooky from school, not wanting to have to confront the bullies. After befriending Kozou, the older delivery boy at the local store who ends up being their protector of sorts, Keiji and Ryoichi are able to stand up to their tormentors to become the ones among the boys who call the shots. Their newfound pride takes a hit when they end up being at the same social gathering as their father and his coworkers at Iwasaki's house, and see that their father is a proverbial apple-polisher toward ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 June 1932 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Children of Tokyo  »

Company Credits

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Funny, charming and lots more
16 March 2003 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

To say that I Was Born, But…is funny and charming is like saying The Godfather is a crime drama. It is that but much more. Featuring outstanding child performances, this silent film by the great Yasijiro Ozu is both a satire on the rigid structure of Japanese society and a coming-of-age story about children learning to live in a less than perfect world. It is an enduring masterpiece that has maintained its universal appeal over the years.

In the film, eight-year old Keichi (Tomio Aoki) and his ten-year old brother Ryoichi (Hideo Sugawara) come to live in a small town in the suburbs of Tokyo after their father, Mr. Yoshii (Tatsuo Saito), an office clerk, receives a promotion. The transition to the suburbs, however, is not smooth. Neighborhood bullies taunt the boys, but they soon gain the upper hand with the help of a delivery boy (Shoichi Kojufita) who sends the main bully home crying. One of the neighborhood boys is Taro (Kato), the son of their father's employer Mr. Iwasaki (Takeshi Sakamoto) who seems to always be dressed in a black suit, befitting his station in life. The boys' behavior mirrors the adults with their games and power strategies including the very funny "resurrection" ritual.

The two boys' are in awe of their father and consider him great; however, their loyalty is tested when they see him clowning and acting like a buffoon in front of his employer while watching home movies at Iwasaki's home. Mr. Yoshii explains later that as Iwasaki owns the company where he works, he has to treat him with respect. In disgust the boys ask if they will have to bow to their friend Taro, the boss's son, when he grows up. Resentful after a spanking and dissatisfied with the answers they have received to their questions, they go on a hunger strike but it is short lived. After the father talks with them about the meaning of being an employee, everyone learns something about the realities of life.

Ozu seems to endorse acceptance of the status quo but, on reflection, it seems he is merely making observations rather than judgments. He is critical of the father for kowtowing to his employer, yet also sympathetic with the realities the family must face. The children have lost their innocence and must accept the fact that life isn't fair, but they also see that happiness can be achieved by rising above their prescribed status. Sadly, many of the boys shown in the movie had to fight and die in a bloody war only ten years later, in part a consequence of the rigid social structure Ozu satirized in the film.


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