The Family Game was directed by Yoshimitsu Morita in 1983. Until now, the critics assess it as one of the most moving films by the Japanese pop culture. Following its release, the film received the award ‘Newcomer of the Year.’ In my opinion, the film best conveys the relations in the ordinary Japanese family. Thereby, watching this movie became one of the most significant cultural experiences through cinematography that I ever experienced.
First and foremost, I found the plot of the movie really interesting. A family comprising of the father, Kosuke, mother Chikako and two sons was very traditionally described since the very beginning. One of the sons was a junior high school student, while the other son was forced to live according to his father expectations. Even though the documentary was filmed with the cultural perspective of Japan, a lot of aspects of the parental relations resonate with the other Western cultures, too.
Another very particular feature of the documentary was that it exposes the story of growth. In fact, one of the sons, Yoshimoto, was a student of the third-rate university. However, throughout the movie, his greats improved and he became a much more proficient student. A depiction of a rather tough story of someone who faced the difficulty in becoming a better student has a happy end, as a son manages to qualify for the high school studies.
The Family Game also exposes the difficult moments that are frequently experienced by the families. When the son reaches the progress in his studies, he becomes rebellious and protests in the form of hitting people, throwing food and pouring the wine. The irony is that such rebellion takes place at the family celebration.
If was particularly interesting for me to observe the tradition of the family relations, respect for choices and the rebellions due to the experienced difficulties. In this particular movie I observed how dysfunctional the middle class family is. It is well shown that the Japanese families are linked by their assigned social roles. As the movie demonstrates, the social expectations are so important that one cannot simply break the communication between the family members.
No less interesting it was to observe the change between the different epoques. For instance, I have noticed that some features of the modern Japanese families with the high expectations from everything in the surroundings is mixed with the perception of the post-modernism, where the rebellion and individualistic opinions matter more. The movie frequently goes beyond the common Japanese ‘ideals’ and redefines various social concepts.
I also felt that the movie aimed to conceptualize the changes that Japan went through. Not only the characters seek to understand what is exactly important to them, but they look wider and expose the external factors that influence on their ways of thinking. For instance, as the school examination remains one of the most important concerns for becoming an educated citizens, the characters of the older generation seem to not note any other possible ways of living without passing the examination. At the same time, the younger son who represents a different generation and a new way of thinking changes the social definitions in the family, even though there was a significant social pressure on his educational choices.
Overall, the movie directed over three decades ago still remains an exemplary way of understanding the Japanese culture as well as outlines the important features for the citizens of different generations. It looks at the extensive scope of issues that one could raise, regardless of their background or nationality.