Morning for the Osone Family (as part of the Eclipse Series 41: Kinoshita and World War II) (a J!-ENT DVD Review)
December 31, 2014 by Dennis Amith
“Morning for the Osone Family” is no doubt, my favorite film in the “Eclipse Series 41: Kinoshita and World War II” DVD box set. A fantastic film and a fantastic DVD box set that I highly recommend!
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TITLE: Morning for the Osone Family (as part of the Eclipse Series 41: Kinoshita and World War II)
YEAR OF FILM: 1946
DURATION: 81 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Black and White, 1:33:1 Aspect Ratio, Monaural, Japanese with English subtitles
COMPANY: Janus Films/The Criterion Collection
RELEASED: December 16, 2014
Directed by Keisuke Kinoshita
Screenplay by Ejiro Hisaita
Produced by Tatsuo Hosoya
Cinematography by Hiroshi Kusuda
Haruko Sugimura as Fusako Osone
Eitaro Ozawa as Issei Osone
Mitsuko Miura as Yuko Osone
Shin Tokudaiji as Taiji Osone
Shiro Osaka as Takashi Osone
Toshinosuke Nagao as Ichiro Osone
Junji Masuda as Akira Minari
Eijiro Tono as Ippei Yamaki
Kinoshita’s first film after the end of World War II is a wrenching, superbly wrought tale about a liberal-minded Japanese family torn apart by war and imperialist politics. Morning for the Osone Family is both palpably bitter about the nation’s fresh wartime wounds and inspiringly hopeful about a democratic tomorrow.
Before legendary and prolific Japanese filmmaker Keisuke Kinoshita directed the widely acclaimed films “Twenty-Four Eyes”, “Immortal Love”, “The Ballad of Narayama”, to name a few, it took the filmmaker some blood, sweat and tears to become one.
Becoming a fan of cinema at the age of eight and doing all that he could to learn about movies (without university education) and having been drafted into war in 1940, life would change for Kinoshita when he got out of the military and pursued a job at Shochiku. And by 1943, he would get his first big break directing films during World War II. A time when cinema was closely monitored by the government and were to be propagandistic.
While many are enamored by the cinema master who excelled in all genres that he took on, many of Kinoshita’s earlier work has not been seen until now.
“Port of Flowers” (1943), “The Living Magoroku” (1943), “Jubiliation Street” (1944), “Army” (1944) and “Morning for the Osone Family” (1946) will be released by the Criterion Collection as part of its Eclipse Series (#41) DVD set titled “Kinoshita and World War II”.
The fifth and final film I will be reviewing from the “Eclipse Series 41: Kinoshita and World War II” is his 1946 film “Morning for the Osone Family” (Osone-ke ashita). His definitive anti-war film from 1946.
Having to make propagandist films in 1943-1944, Kinoshita was accused with creating an anti-war film, “Army” and after the criticism from that film, he would never make a film during the war.
His next film, “Morning for the Osone Family” would be created after Japan’s unconditional surrender in September 1945. And while they no longer had to worry about making a film under the government, they would now have to pass through American censors which had rules prohibiting militarism, anti-foreignness, discrimination and anything anti-democratic or discriminative.
With Kinoshita being a pacifist, the rules were something he could live by and thus the “Morning for the Osone Family” was created.
The film would begin with introducing us to the Osone family, a creative liberal family who were antiwar, despite having samurai lineage and military members in the family.
The family consists of the widowed matriarch, Fusako Osone (portrayed by Haruko Sugimura), daughter Yuko (portrayed by Mitsuko Miura) and her three sons, writer Ichiro (portrayed by Toshinosuke Nagao), the sensitive painter Taiji (portrayed by Shin Tokudaiji) and Takashi (portrayed by Shiro Osaka).
Because of the war, Ichiro is imprisoned for writing articles criticizing the Japanese government, Taiji ends up being drafted to fight in the war, while Takashi is influenced by their ultraconservative army general/uncle Issei (portrayed by Eitaro Ozawa) to fight for the country.
But what kind of toll will the war have on the Osone Family, especially when Japan surrenders?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Morning for the Osone Family” is presented in black and white (1:33:1 Aspect Ratio). Considering the film is nearly 70-years-old, while some frames of the film had suffered damage overtime, and features white/black specks, they are not the type that hurts your viewing of the film. The film is among the better looking films in the Eclipse DVD set.
The film is presented in Japanese monaural with English subtitles. There is hiss that can be heard throughout the movie but nothing that deters you from watching.
Eclipse Series releases do not come with special features but included in the insert is a background on Kinoshita and his work on “Morning for the Osone Family”.
As the war produced propaganda films that the Japanese government approved during World War II, “Morning for the Osone Family” was the film that Kinoshita was able to create and have it become the voice of the liberal families who were against the war.
Unlike the previous war films from Kinoshita depicting families who were about solidarity and fighting for the country, “Morning for the Osone Family” was the opposite. This family were against the government’s belief of fighting the war, this family questioned the war and what the purpose was for?
The mother, Fusako, represents the Japanese mother who followed the man’s lead and did not step in the way of trying to block Issei Osone, the Army General and her children’s uncle.
Ichiro represents those who voiced opposition towards the Japanese government and the war and were jailed, Taiji represents the young men who didn’t want to fight in a war and didn’t believe in it, but yet was drafted and forced to fight for their country. Takashi represents those who voluntarily enlist in military because they bought into the ideology of Japanese spirit and pride, fighting for their country is the most important thing.
While I don’t want to spoil this film for anyone wanting to watch this film for the very first time, the film did make me think about the film “Saving Private Ryan” and I’ll leave it at that.
The performances by Haruko Sugimura and Eitaro Ozawa was fantastic but the overall direction and the writing of the film was fantastic and not only did I feel happy for Kinoshita now being able to have the freedom of creating a war film that he wanted to make but also creating a film that went against many other war films that were propagandist in nature and having the audacity during that time to create an anti-war film.
The message of the film delivered by Haruko Sugimura’s character Fusako was wonderful and because of how this film was a 180 degree change from Kinoshita’s previous war films, it made watching “Morning for the Osone Family” so enjoyable!
Overall, “Morning for the Osone Family” is no doubt, my favorite film in the “Eclipse Series 41: Kinoshita and World War II” DVD box set. A fantastic film and a fantastic DVD box set that I highly recommend!
Overall, “Army” starts to make its transition from the early propagandist war films from Kinoshita to a film which is considered as an anti-war film, and easily leading the director to create his true anti-war film “Morning for the Osone Family” two years later. A fascinating war film from Keisuke Kinoshita and a wonderful addition to the “Eclipse Series 41: Kinoshita and World War II” DVD box set!
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