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There Was a Father (1942)
"Chichi ariki" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  November 1982 (USA)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 1,448 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 22 critic

Shuhei Horikawa, a poor schoolteacher, struggles to raise his son Ryohei by himself, despite neither money nor prospects.

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Shûji Sano ...
Shin Saburi ...
Yasutaro Kurokawa
Takeshi Sakamoto ...
Makoto Hirata
Mitsuko Mito ...
Fumiko Hirata
Masayoshi Ôtsuka ...
Seiichi Hirata
Shin'ichi Himori ...
Minoru Uchida
Haruhiko Tsuda ...
Ryohei as a child
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Shôtarô Fujimatsu
Chiyoko Fumiya
Masao Hayama
Kanji Kawahara ...
Teacher of junior high school
Teruo Kisaragi
Shôichi Kotôda
Masami Kubota
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Storyline

A father and his son, a son and his father. Horikawa is a widower, a teacher, and a good father to Ryohei, who's about 10. After a tragedy, Horikawa resigns from teaching and takes Ryohei from Tokyo to the town of Ueno, enrolling him in junior high; to the lad's sorrow, he will be a boarder. Horikawa returns to work in Tokyo, their separation is complete. Jump ahead more than ten years: with dad's help, Ryohei has finished college and has a teaching job in Akita. Horikawa considers living with his son, which Ryohei wants, but the elder's notions of duty and hard work preclude it. Ryohei arranges a ten-day vacation with his father. Heartbreak comes quietly, nearly hidden by dignity. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

November 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

There Was a Father  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Connections

Referenced in The Life and Works of Yasujiro Ozu (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sometimes a little clunky (probably because it was edited post-war), but very good nonetheless
1 August 2010 | by (Saint Paul, MN) – See all my reviews

Lesser, but, of course, still fine Ozu. It might come off as better if it had not been edited by American censors after the war, or if the existing print were a little less damaged (it's easily the worst print I've ever seen Criterion put on DVD, and they apologize profusely in the booklet for it; of course, it's of the best quality that is available). Chishu Ryu, in his first starring role, plays the titular father. The film opens with him quitting his job as a teacher after a student under his supervision has died. A widower, he moves away from the city with his young son in tow. After he finds a good school, he abandons his son to move back to Tokyo, where he can find better work. The meat of the film is the torn relationship. The son isn't bitter, exactly - more hurt that his father is far away. When he grows up, he wants to quit his job as a teacher to move to Tokyo to be with his father, but his father refuses the idea. Every person must do their job the best they can. While the message of every citizen doing their duty is a part of the film's wartime propaganda, it doesn't really come off as such. It feels more like Ryu is always punishing himself for his own career failures, or maybe that he fears that his son will be a failure like himself if he quits his job. Yet Ryu's character never comes off as cold - he loves his son, and his son loves the heck out of him. It's as if the forced separation is pathological. All the scenes between the father and son are golden. I did think that whenever the film strayed from them it wasn't as strong, and the pacing feels a little weird at times (almost certainly from the editing the film suffered later on). The final moments are killer.


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