7.5/10
1,398
7 user 17 critic

Boy (1969)

Shônen (original title)
A young boy reluctantly aids his swindling father in a threatening scam.

Director:

Nagisa Ôshima

Writer:

Tsutomu Tamura (screenplay)
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4 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Fumio Watanabe ... Takeo Omura
Akiko Koyama ... Takeko Taniguchi
Toshi Amatsu Toshi Amatsu ... Toshio Omura (as Tetsuo Abe)
Tsuyoshi Kinoshita Tsuyoshi Kinoshita ... Peewee
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Storyline

A couple Takeo Omura and Takeko Kaniguchi travel across Japan with their two sons, the eldest, Toshio, who is biologically his but not hers. They are con artists, whose scam is for her to jump alongside moving vehicles feigning being hit and injured, while he, playing the outraged husband, negotiates with the worried driver for an unofficial cash settlement in return for not calling the police reporting the motorist's "guilt". She often does sustain minor injuries from the ruse. She believes that they will continue doing this work until they have enough money to settle down in one place, where he will get a legitimate job. However, he wants to continue the scam indefinitely as he, a veteran, claims that injuries he sustained during the war would prevent him from obtaining that legitimate work. When Toshio reaches age ten in 1966, they enlist him in the con, he now playing the accident victim, with Takeko now playing the concerned mother role. They even manufacture real bruises on ... Written by Huggo

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Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The role of the boy was cast by searching in Tokyo children's homes, eventually finding the young orphan Tetsuo Abe. Abe's own life resembled the fractured childhood of the character he was to play, and he was allowed to join the production with the children's home's permission. After the film's release, Abe was put up for adoption but refused it and chose to stay at the children's home's. He would never act again. See more »

Goofs

While the boy is wandering through a village it is night time, at the ocean inlet it's dawn, but the following scenes are at night time again. See more »

Connections

References Ultraman: A Special Effects Fantasy Series (1966) See more »

User Reviews

 
Oshima explores identity formation
24 May 2009 | by timmy_501See all my reviews

The premise of Boy is quite simple: a middle aged couple travels around Japan and fakes accidents because they know hapless automobile drivers would rather pay a little bit of money to make their troubles go away then confront them. Most of the time they get the oldest child, who is never given a name beyond Boy, to quickly jump into a car from the side. The drivers must be very guilty people because they all assume they have in fact hit the Boy in spite of the impossible logistics they are presented with.

The Boy is the main character of the film and he's as disturbed as you would expect a ten year old boy who works dangerous con jobs to be. Since his family moves around all the time he doesn't have any sort of perspective of place, he hears the names of cities they are in and ones they are going to but they are never more than names to him. The Boy also lacks the usual naivety and faith in others that are usually found in children that age; he sees the worst side of the strange adults he deals with and his parents are trashy criminals: in addition to being the mastermind of their scam, the Father is also abusive and manipulative. The Mother is actually not the Boy's real mother but he still prefers her to his father; she may treat him poorly and give in all too easily to his father but she at least occasionally feels bad and tries to make him feel better. The Boy is in the unusual position of being the most intelligent and mature person in most of the encounters he has with others.

Although the Boy is disenchanted with humanity he is not disenchanted with all lifeforms: he repeatedly tells his baby brother and the Mother about the aliens from outer space. These aliens actually care about one another and help each other out instead of greedily deceiving each other. Basically, the aliens represent to him what family represents to most children his age. Unsurprisingly, he sees himself as a part of this mysterious but ubiquitous race, presumably one that has been placed in Japan by mistake.

In addition to the fascinating characterization of the protagonist Boy is also interesting for its experimental style. Oshima experiments with still images and distortions (as in the scene in which the Boy wears someone else's glasses and everything is slanted) and especially with color: filters give scenes tone they wouldn't have otherwise, often suggesting the emotions of the Boy quite effectively.

Oshima shows Japan as a country striving to find a sense of itself much as the boy does, particularly in the scene where Japan's traditional colors of red and white are displayed prominently in the background: not on the familiar flag but on a giant Coca Cola billboard. It's also no coincidence that the family exploits automobile traffic and not something more traditionally Japanese.

With Boy Oshima managed to make a film that was simultaneously universal in its treatment of human nature, culturally relevant in its treatment of postwar Japan's national identity, and modernistically rich in its treatment of cinematic techniques.


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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

9 April 1970 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Boy See more »

Filming Locations:

Akita, Japan See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Black and White (tinted)| Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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