Two boys begin a silence strike to press their parents into buying them a television set.Two boys begin a silence strike to press their parents into buying them a television set.Two boys begin a silence strike to press their parents into buying them a television set.
An Ironic Film About Language
It may have the skimpiest of plots--two young brothers take a vow of silence until their parents buy them a television--but Yasujiro Ozu's 1959 picture is anything but slight, taking on the subject of language (ironic, considering the story) with attentiveness and intelligence. In his deliberate, contemplative manner, Ozu presents a wry commentary on the ways even the most innocuous words can harm (gossip) or become the building blocks of a relationship (a budding romance is confirmed by a conversation about the weather); he also notes Japan's growing fascination with the English language (the older boy studies it) and the increasing obsession, now with fourteen years of distance from the war, with American technology--the suburban landscape is peppered with aerial antennas as television begins to permeate the culture. It's subtly beautiful: each shot is perfectly framed (the camera never moves) with an excellent use of depth that highlights exactly what the director wants you to see and giving you plenty of space to focus; it's easy to see how a master of today's Asian cinema such as Wong Kar-Wai would be profoundly influenced by Ozu's languid yet carefully observed filmmaking. A delight; it's also a fine introduction for younger viewers to the magnificence of international cinema.
- Sep 7, 2003
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