I Was Born, But… (1932)

Film and Plot Synopsis

The Yoshi family moves to the suburbs of Tokyo so that the patriarch can be closer to his job. His two sons are not initially happy about the move since it results in the boys getting into fights with some of the neighborhood kids. The boys begin to ditch school to avoid the school bullies, but eventually they confront their abusers and take over the neighborhood gang. However, when the boys see their father act subserviently towards his boss, the boys begin to question their father, who they have always perceived as a stern taskmaster.

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‘I Was Born, But…’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
I Was Born, But... (1932)The Yoshi family completes a move to the Tokyo suburbs so that the family’s patriarch, Kennosuke (Tatsuo Saitō) can be closer to his job. Kennosuke works for Iwasaki (Takeshi Sakamoto), a business man who has a fascination with making home movies. Kennosuke’s two boys, Ryoichi and Keiji (Hideo Sugawara and Tomio Aoki) are not happy about the move. Especially after they get into a confrontation with some of the other neighborhood kids. One of the larger kids threatens to beat the boys up the next time he sees them.

The next day, Kennosuke walks his two sons most of the way to their school, but leaves before they get there. The boys are intimidated by the bully and decide to ditch school rather than face a beating. The boys eat their lunch and do some of their homework in an open field. They wait for school to let out before heading home. Kennosuke encounters the boys’ teacher, Sensei (Seiji Nishimura), on his way home from work who informs him of the boys’ absence. Kennosuke confronts the boys when he gets home and scolds them for missing school. He tells the boys that they must go to school.

The boys are forced to go to school the next day. Kennosuke waits to make sure that they get through the gate. The boys attempt to eat sparrows’ eggs to get stronger so that they can get back at the other boys. However, when they are confronted by the group, an older delivery boy, Kozou (Shoichi Kofujita) agrees to help them out. The boys are able to defeat the large bully with the help of Kozou and take over running the gang of kids.

One of the boys in the gang is Kodomo (Seiichi Kato) who is the son of Iwasaki. The boys in the gang argue frequently whose father is more powerful. Ryoichi and Keiji believe that their father is the most powerful, but when they see their father bowing to Iwasaki one day, they begin to lose respect for their father. Shortly thereafter, Ryoichi and Keiji are at Kodomo’s house to watch home movies. Iwasaki comes home with some of his employees, including Kennosuke, to watch some of the movies as well. The boys see Kennosuke in some of the movies clowning around on camera acting like a buffoon in front of his colleagues and boss. The boys are humiliated and leave Kodomo’s house.

When they return home, the boys decide that their father isn’t an important person after all and is not worthy of their respect. They confront their father as why he has to grovel to Iwasaki. Kennosuke tells his sons that Iwasaki is richer and holds a higher position then he does. The boys are dissatisfied with the answer and throw a massive tantrum. Their father attempts to punish them, but the boys decide to go on a hunger strike and refuse to eat. Kennosuke spanks Ryoichi out of frustration, causing the young boy to cry. After the spanking, Ryoichi appears embarrassed by his tears when his younger brother points out that he was crying. The two boys go to bed. After the boys are asleep, Kennosuke confides in his wife, Haha (Mitsuko Yoshikawa), that he does not enjoy being the disciplinarian and that he only wishes for a better future for their children.

The next day, the boys continue their hunger strike during breakfast. Eventually, the boys give in and eat some onigiri that their parents have left out for them. Kennosuke joins his boys in the front yard as they eat. The boys and their father reconcile. The boys tell their father that when they grow up that they want to be a lieutenant general and general. On their way to school, Kennosuke and the boys observe Iwasaki’s car. The boys encourage their father to go up and greet his boss having reconciled their father’s status at his job. Kennosuke greets his boss and takes a convenient car ride to work. The boys walk to school with Kodomo and the rest of the gang.

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Shochiku released I Was Born, But... on June 3, 1932. Yasujirô Ozu directed the film starring Tatsuo Saitô, Tomio Aoki, and Mitsuko Yoshikawa.

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