Item description for Eclipse Series 10 - Silent Ozu-Three Family Comedies (Tokyo Chorus, I Was Born But..., Passing Fancy) (Criterion Collection) by Silent Ozu-Three Family Comedies & Yasujro Ozu...
In the late twenties and early thirties Yasujiro Ozu was working steadily for Shochiku studios honing his craft on dozens of silent films in various genres from romantic melodramas to college comedies to gangster pictures - and of course movies about families. In these three droll domestic films - Tokyo Chorus I Am Born But... Passing Fancy - Ozu movingly and humorously depicts middle-class struggles and the resentments between children and parents establishing the emotional and aesthetic delicacy with which he would transform the landscape of cinema.Three-disc set includes:Tokyo Chorus (1931) 90 minutesI Was Born But...(1932) 90 minutesPassing Fancy (1933) 100 minutesSystem Requirements:LENGTH: 280 minutesFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: COMEDY/FAMILY GATHERINGS UPC: 715515029124 Manufacturer No: ECL045DVD
Outline Tenth in the Eclipse Series, Criterion's effort to reintroduce "lost, forgotten, and overshadowed classics," Silent Ozu includes three early Yasujiro Ozu films that are incredibly entertaining with or without the piano scores offered by Donald Sosin. Ozu, the master of bittersweet family dramas, apparently based later films on these three--Tokyo Chorus (1931), I Was Born But (1932), and Passing Fancy (1933)--though there is no lack of action, passion, or cinematic revelry in these prototypes. Crafted at Shochiku studios, each film reveals an everyman's struggle to pay bills and raise children. Not only do these movies offer slice-of-life glimpses into 1930s Japan, but they also honor familial roles with humor and respect. It is Ozu's ability to cut from emotional pain to comedy and back again that lends his films such deep humanity. In Tokyo Chorus, a family struggling through unemployment and illness bond during tribulations they face. Shinji Okajima's (Tokihiko Okada) son (Hideo Sugawara) asks for a bike right before Okajima loses his position at an insurance office. Disparities between what is desired and what is provided grow from there. When daughter Miyoko (Hideko Takamine) needs hospitalization, Okajima and his wife stoop lower socially than they wish to make ends meet. The family's determination undercuts their poverty. When Okajima tells his wife, "I feel I'm getting old, I've lost my spirit," she offers to help him pass flyers out to drum up restaurant business where he works. Hilarious scenes, such as when the insurance office workers line up in the loo to secretly peek into cash bonus envelopes, make the most of silent physical comedy. Passing Fancy is similar, though the impoverished father, Kihachi (Takeshi Sakamoto), works to locate a wife to mother his hooligan son.
I Was Born But is the funniest of the three, with its Little Rascals like attention to the child's point of view. It opens with a shot of car wheels spinning in mud, since Mr. Yoshii (Tatsuo Saito) has just moved his family from suburban Azabu to Tokyo. As Yoshii slaves to improve his employment status, comedic scenes focus on his two sons, Ryoichi (Hideo Sugawara) and Keiji (Tomio Aoki), who continuously ward off local bullies while trying to please their dad. When the boys ditch class to avoid getting beat up, the younger remembers that he was "supposed to get an E in calligraphy today." Lying in a meadow, he does his lesson and recruits a passerby to forge a good grade on his paper. Later, after classmates swallow raw sparrow eggs to impress each other, the two stars feed their eggs to the family dog, accidentally sickening him. Scenes become funnier as tensions build between the parents and their rebellious sons. It is amazing how much Ozu can achieve with so little dialogue, which crops up sparingly printed on cards. One may wonder if sound these days even improves our film viewing experience. In the least, Silent Ozu recalls quieter times, when perhaps just as much narrative was expressed. --Trinie Dalton
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Actors: Silent Ozu-Three Family Comedies
Directors: Yasujro Ozu
Format: Box set, Black & White, DVD, Full Screen, NTSC, Silent, Subtitled
Region Code: 1 (USA & Canada Only)
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: Unrated
Studio: Criterion Collection
Running Time: 280.00 minutes
Record Label Criterion Collection
Format Box set / Black & White / DVD / Full Sc
Dimensions: Length: 7.5" Width: 5.4" Height: 0.9" Weight: 0.56375 lbs.
Binding DVD Video
Publisher Criterion Collection
ISBN13 0715515029124 UPC 715515029124
Availability 0 units.
More About Silent Ozu-Three Family Comedies & Yasujro Ozu
Reviews - What do customers think about Eclipse Series 10 - Silent Ozu-Three Family Comedies (Tokyo Chorus, I Was Born But..., Passing Fancy) (Criterion Collection)?
Ten Stars Oct 17, 2009
I have spent too many years not knowing about Ozu and his brilliant films!! That being said, I Was Born But... is one of my all-time favorite films now. It reflects a more simple time but the underlying human conditions are exactly the same. It has one of the best -if not THE BEST-child actors. Tomio Aoki was a very young child when he made this film but brought humor, emotion, and realism to his acting. It is certainly a credit to Ozu that Aoki was cast along with the other superb actors. I have also watched Floating Weeds and Passing Fancy with Aoki cast and spent many happy hours enjoying these movies. I suppose I have conditioned myself to watch silent films because when I watch them with the musical scores I never once think about it. The actors, of course, were more demonstrative in keeping with this restriction but, as in a good book, the mind fills in the conversation. The subtitles are more than adequate. I am a very hard-to-please film watcher. I seldom find loud, brash, silly American action films to my liking. My preference is for internation and art-house films that take one into different times and worlds. The films in this particular Ozu collection made me laugh, made me think, and brought tears to my eyes which, I assure you, is not something easily accomplished. I would pay twice as much for these films and consider it money very well spent. We are privileged to have the opportunity to view them.
Silent Ozu films from the early 1930's Jan 6, 2009
Of the 3 films in this package, I have only watched 'Tokyo Chorus' so far, but found it highly enjoyable. It depicts a Tokyo based husband who is under seige by his children, his wife, and his boss. When he loses is job, he and his family have to make some 'adjustments'. The film is filled with comic sequences and is obvious that Ozu was influence by the Hollywood clowns Chaplin, Lloyd, Sennet, etc., although most of the film is quite naturalistic and lacks the 'herky-jerkly' quality of hand cranked silents. Having spent several years in Japan, it is interesting to observe the similarities and differences in Japanese life in the 1930's compared to life at the end of the 20th century. The lead actor is capable of a wide range of emotions and all of the actors are very good. It is obvious that Ozu is a real director. In fact, he is considered the most 'Japanese' director. The fact that the film is silent is no deterrent.
Another 5-Star Ozu Series Jan 6, 2009
I wish I had time to write a detailed review. I have yet to see an Ozu film that wasn't first-rate. If you haven't seen any of his movies maybe you should start with one of his later ones, but this is a fine series. If you don't understand Japanese and don't like subtitles this collection would be a good place to start.
MOVIES THAT SHOW AMERICAN AND JAPAN ARE ALIKE IN ALOTA WAYS Sep 28, 2008
Everything everybody here has said about these superb silent movies is true. Beyond that, these fine films show that silent Japanese films were every bit as good as our American movies then, and that the values, natures and problems in Japan and America then were pretty much the same. (Of course I've haven't yet run into a Chaplain, Keaton or Laurel and Hardy in Japanese silent films. But Oza certainly measures up to our best directors, then and now.)
I expect our societies and arts today are very parallel too. People is people, times are times. Zen-sekai no."
A delightful glimpse into silent Japan May 22, 2008
After receiving high acclaim for his special cinematic style in directing movies of the `40s and `50s, it's about time the world saw some of Yasujiro Ozu's earlier work in the silent medium, and this excellent set of three films from the early 1930s balances the scales nicely. Best remembered for his realistic portrayals of family life in medium-class Japan, Ozu obviously developed his remarkable insight into human nature and relationships already in the 1920s, as these three family comedies clearly show. Although very similar to his well-known films of later decades, these silent films have a subtle touch of comedy to spice things up and - in my opinion - make them even more entertaining than his later sound films. Watching Ozu's films in general feels like stepping into the lives of real people with all their thoughts, feelings and problems as if you are right there among them. Attention to details, natural acting and a tendency to linger on what seems like mundane daily actions all add to this overall impression of being involved in the film, not just being a distant observer. This skill was already honed to perfection by the time Ozu directed these three charming family stories in the early 1930s when the rest of the world was embracing sound films, yet Ozu, it seems, wanted to perfect and continue the beautiful and artistic silent film medium for as long as possible. He directed his first sound film in 1936, beginning a series of more sombre, even somewhat depressing family dramas, making this set of comedies a pleasant and refreshing new look at Ozu's work. Keeping to the formula he knew best, Ozu's three family comedies include young children, and the focus is on how everyone interacts with one another in the family circle as well as at work and in other surroundings. "Tokyo Chorus" follows the ups and downs in the life of an average working man who becomes unemployed and struggles to keep his wife and children happy, but these real-life problems are tempered with moments of sweet, almost childlike humour, quite different from the often coarse comedy seen in the West. For me, the most entertaining of the three is "Passing Fancy", which focuses on the relationship between a father and son living in poor conditions but helped along by neighbours and friends as the bungling father tries to sort out his life. Children are the stars in the third film, "I was Born, But..." where two young brothers learn to deal with moving to a new neighbourhood and the new kids on the block, but fathers once again play a key role in the family interactions. The natural acting by both adults and children impressed me the most in these films, along with Ozu's apparent easy and casual approach of glimpsing into family life with understanding, compassion and a little bit of wicked humour. While the picture quality of "Tokyo Chorus" is not quite up to the same high standard as the others, it is still enjoyable to watch, especially with the optional piano musical score by Donald Sosin, who does a fine job adding the right ambience to each scene. The DVDs have their individual slim cases with good notes inside which help shed some more light on this overlooked early part of Ozu's impressive career. For Ozu and silent film collectors alike, this is a special and unique addition not to be missed!