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Film / Morning for the Osone Family

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“Did the war make anybody happy? Who was this war for?”
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Morning for the Osone Family is a 1946 film directed by by Keisuke Kinoshita.

The film chronicles the Japanese home front from 1943 to 1945 as World War II turns bad for the Japanese. The Osone family consists of mother Fujiko, daughter Yuko, and sons Ichiro, Taiji, and Takashi. The Osones are generally of a left-wing political bent, as most dramatically demonstrated by Ichiro, a news reporter who has written a subtly anti-war essay in his paper. Taiji is a budding young artist while Takashi, the youngest, is still a student. Daughter Yuko is engaged to marry Mr. Minami, son of an arms manufacturer.

Their relative domestic happiness is disrupted when the war intrudes on their life as it is intruding into the lives of everyone else in Japan. Ichiro is arrested when his subtly anti-war editorial turns out to not have been subtle enough. Taiji, much to his horror, receives a draft notice. And worst of all, Japanese militarism arrives in the Osone house in the person of Fujiko's brother-in-law Issei, a colonel in the Army and an ultra-conservative nationalist. Issei as the eldest male in the family immediately takes control of the household, much to the displeasure of his niece Yuko.

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Morning for the Osone Family was one of the first Japanese films made after the war. Kinoshita would return to this anti-war theme eight years later when he made his masterpiece, Twenty-Four Eyes. Haruko Sugimura, who plays family matriarch Fujiko in this film, played a very different part as selfish daughter Shige a few years later in the very famous film Tokyo Story.


Tropes:

  • Arranged Marriage: Part of Issei's tyrannical nature is shown when he breaks off Yuko's engagement to Mr. Minami and tries to marry her off to Mr. Tanji, son of one of his friends. Yuko won't have it.
  • As You Know: "Shouldn't we inform our uncle in Aoyama?" Uncle Issei is introduced shortly after.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Two of Fujiko's sons are dead, but Ichiro is freed, Yuko will marry Mr. Minami after he comes home alive from the war, and the family, like the country, will start again.
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  • Call-Back: The Osones sing "Silent Night" in the opening scene. Later an instrumental version plays on the soundtrack as Fujiko grieves after hearing of Takashi's death.
  • Cue the Sun: The Rising Sun has of course long been a symbol of Japan. In this film it takes on a new meaning. The Osones greet Ichiro, who is released after the war following nearly two years in prison. He points out the sunrise, saying "It's a new day for the Osone family...the dawn of Japan." The final shot of the movie shows the sun, here symbolizing the birth of democratic Japan, rising over the ocean.
  • Drowning My Sorrows:
    • Taiji comes home roaring drunk after getting his draft notice.
    • Then Issei comes home and drinks heavily after finding out that Japan will surrender.
  • During the War: Dramatizes the suffering of ordinary Japanese on the home front.
  • Establishing Character Moment: For the whole family in the opening scene that shows them singing "Silent Night" and celebrating Christmas. The Osones are immediately established as being more Westernized than many other Japanese.
  • Feet-First Introduction: A Japanese soldier is introduced this way right before he delivers the news that Takashi was killed in action the day before the war ended.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Discussed Trope, as Ichiro explains how he tried to couch his anti-war essay in general terms while letting the message come through subtly. It was good enough to get past the censors but not good enough to keep him from getting arrested.
  • Hypocrite: Issei is super-enthusiastic about his nephew Takashi volunteering for the Navy, but when seeking to arrange Yuko's marriage to Tanji, he gets Tanji a cushy civilian factory job. Later, Issei is perfectly OK with the prospect of ten million Japanese dying of starvation, but hoards black market rice and other foodstuffs for himself.
  • Just Following Orders: Issei is initially haughty when receiving Fujiko's "The Reason You Suck" Speech, but finally crumples, saying "I was just a colonel following orders."
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After Issei and his wife Sachiko try to pacify Fujiko by giving her some of their black market food, Fujiko snaps, unleashing all her resentment, blaming Issei and militarists like him for the deaths of her sons, and telling him to get out of the house.
  • State Sec: Things start to go bad for the Osones when State Sec shows up at the house to arrest Ichiro for being a political dissident.
  • Translated Cover Version: The film opens with the Osones at Christmas 1943, singing "Silent Night" in Japanese.
  • War Is Hell: A running theme throughout the movie, as the misery and pain of the war is visited on the Osone family. Even the house is left cracked and dilapidated after suffering damages during bombing raids.
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