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Film 50: History of Cinema

Wednesday, February 4, 2009
3:00 p.m. I Was Born, But . . .
Yasujiro Ozu (Japan, 1932)

Lecture by Marilyn Fabe
Bruce Loeb on Piano

Special admission prices apply: General admission, $11.50; BAM/PFA members, $7.50; UC Berkeley students, $5.50; Seniors, disabled persons, UC Berkeley faculty and staff, non–UC Berkeley students, and youth 17 and under, $8.50.

(Umarete wa mita keredo). I Was Born, But . . . is a comedy, but a “serious” one. A typical wage earner moves to the suburbs with his typical wife and two delightfully atypical sons, aged eight and ten. The boys pass quickly through the neighborhood rites of initiation, but are confronted with their father’s politics of submissiveness when asked to kowtow to the boss’s prissy son. The recognition of the falseness of adult behavior, which they at first innocently reflect, then challenge, and finally must accept, marks another sort of initiation for the boys—their loss of innocence. I Was Born, But . . . is an early classic of the shomin-geki genre, films about middle-class manners and mores. Donald Richie has written, “In this film, Ozu brought together in almost perfect form the various elements which made up his style, his personal way of looking at the world.”

• Written by Akira Fushimi, after an original story by “James Maki” (Ozu). Photographed by Hideo Shigehara. With Tatsuo Saito, Mitsuko Yoshikawa, Hideo Sugawara, Tokkan Kozo. (92 mins, Silent with English intertitles, B&W, 35mm, From Janus/Criterion Collection)