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Eclipse Series 10: Silent Ozu - Three Family Comedies (Tokyo Chorus / I Was Born But... / Passing Fancy) (The Criterion Collection) (2008)

Silent Ozu-Three Family Comedies , Yasujro Ozu  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Eclipse Series 10: Silent Ozu - Three Family Comedies (Tokyo Chorus / I Was Born But... / Passing Fancy) (The Criterion Collection) + Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu (The Only Son / There Was a Father) (The Criterion Collection) + Eclipse Series 3: Late Ozu (Early Spring / Tokyo Twilight / Equinox Flower / Late Autumn / The End of Summer) (The Criterion Collection)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Silent Ozu-Three Family Comedies
  • Directors: Yasujro Ozu
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Silent, Subtitled
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: April 22, 2008
  • Run Time: 280 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0012Z3630
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,950 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Eclipse Series 10: Silent Ozu - Three Family Comedies (Tokyo Chorus / I Was Born But... / Passing Fancy) (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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.

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

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A resounding scream of silence. April 25, 2008
From the director of such classics as Late Spring, Tokyo Story, and Floating Weeds, Criterion brings us a 3-disc collection from Japanese auteur Yasujiro Ozu. Although he has not yet reached the wide-spread acclaim of fellow countryman Akira Kurosawa, Ozu is starting to gain the recognition that he rightfully deserves.

Ozu began his career as a cameraman, and with hard work and determination he finally ascended the ladder to director. Once his position was earned, Ozu poured his creativity onto film with unmatched diligence, producing nearly half of his 50+ films in the first five years of his career. Sadly, many of these films are now lost, which adds to the enjoyment of these extraordinary, previously unreleased films from Criterion.

As the title suggests, the films in this collection were released during a portion of Ozu's silent career, ranging from 1931-1933. Ozu, along with the majority of the Japanese film industry, was somewhat hesitant about entering into talkies based upon the belief that emotions could be best conveyed with movements, expressions, and atmosphere, not dialogue. Ozu's first talkie was not released until 1936, the same year as Chaplin's final silent masterpiece, Modern Times. This period of his career marked Ozu's transition into social criticism as he both subtly and blatantly expresses his discontent with the culture of pre-WWII Japan.

Included films:

Tokyo Chorus (1931) - A man is fired from his job for reasons that would normally be viewed as commendable. The film from here follows his social and financial downfall as he does anything he possibly can to support his family.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Ozu's best films July 1, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
It is a shame that the availability of Ozu films is not more widespread. 'I Was Born But...' exemplifies the concern for family relationships by one of the great masters of Japanese cinema. This film being silent should not be seen as an obstacle (nor should any silent film). It echoes the charming pathos and humour one might expect from a Charlie Chaplin classic.
The film tells the story of a family who relocate to suburban Tokyo. The two sons conflict with the local bullies - one of which is their father's boss's son. The boys deal with the local bullies only to 'lose face' over their father acting like a clown. What arises from this becomes a motif for Ozu - the estranged relationship between children and parents. For Ozu this is part of everyday life and is somewhat auto-biographical in thought as his own relationship with his father was also estranged. Further exemplified, is Ozu's motif of spatial violation and parallel action.
Ozu is the anti-thesis of the Hollywood blockbuster and he possesses a narrow choice of camera positions. Nowhere is the expression "less is more" more appropriate than here. While there is a rare use of a tracking shot, Ozu tends to prefer the static camera and usually shoots from the tatami mat. This sense of mimimalism seems entirely appropriate given that the film spends much time observing the boys everyday encounters.
This great filmmaker has a knack for expressing the tender beauty of everyday life and minimal expression. However, the sense of observation one feels is always pervaded with subtle touches of humour and emotional resonance - that it is impossible to become bored with it. I bless my lucky stars for the offerings that Ozu brought to the world of filmmaking.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Silent Japanese Film??? I'm kidding, right? June 23, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
No Kidding, if you have any sense of humour you'll love this film. Now I am an admitted Ozu film lover, which means I find his unique cinematography of a camera that isn't darting all over the place and shots at low levels that make you feel like you are standing (or sitting) there watching what is going on, a very enjoyable way of viewing a film.
I also love his simple stories that everyone can relate to, his people are just like our friends, neighbors and families, some of them are sweet, some are stinkers, and many are just doing their best to cope with every day's challenges in life.
But a silent Ozu? I was a little wary, but I did put it on my wishlist, and I'm so glad I did and that one of my sweet relations gave it to me for my birthday, because it is one of Ozu's best! Ozu's films are always full of gentle and sometimes silly fun and this one did not disappoint. The two brothers are real characters and along with the kids they meet up with in their new neighborhood, it really was like watching a Japanese version of the Little Rascals. Did you know eating raw sparrow's eggs will make you strong?
It soon appears that they get their sense of humour from their father, though as usually happens, they are not as appreciative of it in him. And as with all Ozu films, we are left with the feeling that we are all pretty much the same no matter where we come from or even when we lived and we find a good deal of comfort in knowing that as the world changes we can still appreciate the things that never do. You'll hate yourself if you don't see it!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A Hit, A Miss, And Something In Between

Simply Delightful!

Film = 3-1/2 stars; restoration = barely 1 star. Talkies came late to Japan. Read more
Published 8 months ago by William F. Flanigan Jr.
4.0 out of 5 stars LOVED I was Born but...
And am anxious to see the rest of Ozu's impressive work. Thought an old, silent, black and white foreign film might be boring but has a more sensitive, touching, treatment of... Read more
Published 15 months ago by cconkling
5.0 out of 5 stars Generational Masterpiece
By 1932 Yasujiro Ozu was becoming a more self assured and confident director. He had already made twenty three films when he embarked on the comedy I Was Born, But.... Read more
Published on July 3, 2012 by Bryan A. Pfleeger
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid collection of a great director's early work
Maybe the most remarkable thing about Yasujiro Ozu is that he directed great movies at every stage of his career, skillfully transitioning from silent films to B&W talkies to... Read more
Published on September 28, 2011 by Little Roy Blue
5.0 out of 5 stars Ten Stars
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. Read more
Published on October 17, 2009 by Maire Collins
5.0 out of 5 stars Silent Ozu films from the early 1930's
Of the 3 films in this package, I have only watched 'Tokyo Chorus' so far, but found it highly enjoyable. Read more
Published on January 6, 2009 by The Electric Mule
5.0 out of 5 stars Another 5-Star Ozu Series
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... Read more
Published on January 5, 2009 by C. Hartel
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... Read more
Published on September 28, 2008 by Roy Clark
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful glimpse into silent Japan
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... Read more
Published on May 21, 2008 by Barbara Underwood
5.0 out of 5 stars Short and sweet
Picture quality is often patchy, but it's probably the best they could get. That's the only minus, and it's completely cancelled out by the fact that these three lovely films are... Read more
Published on April 21, 2008 by Allen Belz
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