Thoughts On: Good Morning - The Silent Fool


Good Morning - The Silent Fool

Quick Thoughts: Good Morning (Ohayō, 1959)

Two children want a T.V, and they won't shut up until they get one - that is, until their parents tell them to shut up and they decide that they will... until they get a T.V.

Good Morning is an Ozu film - brilliantly so. Far lighter than the likes of Tokyo Story this retains a focus on family and time, but captures the humour of the ignorance of youth. My only criticism of this film is that they children, who decide to give their parents the silent treatment when they won't buy them a T.V, are a little too obnoxious at times. This undermines the bigger picture of the film ever so slightly, and so cheapens the motifs of naivety to a degree. However, looking beyond this (which is easy to do), we see a network of genuine characters drawn together in an intricate and warm world with humble mastery, leaving this a pure joy to watch.

Recently, we talked about the idea of the fool as the precursor to the saviour, and such an idea maps onto this film quite directly. In such, Good Morning captures the idea that a foolish act catalyses the emergence of truth. We see this picked up on with a local chairwoman having to accept responsibility for a mistake, with two young love birds talking about the weather instead of letting their true feelings known, with two bratty kids shutting up as their parents want them to as to allow the adults around them drop their personas and fill their silence with their own thoughts/anxieties, and with a young boy soiling his underwear daily in an attempt to fart when someone presses his forehead and so join in on the other kids' game. Without being put in a compromised position, a position of foolishness, the characters of this narrative are shown to be unable to access the truth, nor what they want.

As is clear, this narrative isn't just concerned with truth in a strict sense. Characters often become fools as to reconcile with silence. We see this with the two children refusing to speak so that they can get a T.V (an idiot box) and sit in front of it in silence, and we see this with adults greeting one another and sharing niceties that all mean nothing, but nonetheless carry positive weight that silence does not bear. In these situations, we see characters embodying fools as to accept the truth that they are fools; adults use formalities to quash anxieties and the kids use T.V as to distract themselves from the work they should be doing. In a world without fools, without humans that overthink things, that grind through their days without thanks, that try too hard and fail to try at all, there would be complete silence. It is by acting a fool - going to work when we hate it, sitting in front of the television when we should be studying - that we find ourselves silenced and our lives in balance. This silence can be a burden to bear, but it can also be an alleviation. This silence seems to be the outer and inner world at peace and society functioning smoothly, and it takes many fools and many foolish acts to run the machine and to sustain it.

It is through this relationship between truth, foolishness and silence that Ozu finds comedy. This comedy triggers the contortion of our features and the ringing of silly noises from our mouths, but it also brings about an inner-harmony and a sense of peaceful silence within ourselves. And thus we see this film come full circle. Good Morning is as much about breaking silence through foolishness as it is being a fool to find silence. This silence is harmony, and this foolishness is humanity, and such is the subtle profundity within this film. So, with that said, have you seen Good Morning? What are your thoughts?

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