It is well known that the Japanese people themselves suffered quite a bit during World War II, especially during the last couple years. Of course, given the oppressive nature of the government at the time, no film makers were allowed to show this in any of their movies. So when the war was over and the Japanese movie industry ramped up again, many directors (with the encouragement of the Occupying Forces) took up this subject. That this subject was popular with Japanese audiences can be gauged by the fact that Morning for the Osone Family was ranked as the best movie of the year by Kinema Junpo magazine, while Kurosawa's similarly themed No Regrets for Our Youth was ranked right behind it.
But that was nearly seventy years ago. Has the movie held up over the years? In my eyes, no. The story is about a family of (mostly) pacifist intellectuals and all of the horrible things that happen to them during the war. Part of the problem is that so many tragedies befall them that it starts to feel contrived after a while. Nearly all of the movie is set within the family's house and there is no incidental music, so the whole feels like a rushed adaptation of a play. The performances are all well done but the actors cannot overcome the over the top melodrama. I'm sure watching this movie at the time of its release was cathartic for its viewers but now it is more of a curiosity piece than anything else. For anyone interested in watching a movie on this subject, I would recommend the far superior No Regrets for Our Youth instead.
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