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There Was a Father (1942) More at IMDbPro »Chichi ariki (original title)

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Release Date:
November 1982 (USA) See more »
Shuhei Horikawa, a poor schoolteacher, struggles to raise his son Ryohei by himself, despite neither money nor prospects. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
(6 articles)
User Reviews:
Immovable vision See more (12 total) »


  (in credits order)

Chishû Ryû ... Shuhei Horikawa
Shûji Sano ... Ryohei Horikawa
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
Yûsuke Kurata ... Teacher of junior high school
Kôji Mitsui
Ken'ichi Miyajima
Tatsurô Nagai
Shin'yô Nara
Seiji Nishimura ... Priest
Takashi Ogata
Giichi Okita
Tsuneo Osugi
Reikô Tani
Morihiko Tezuka
Jun Yokoyama
Kenji Ôyama

Directed by
Yasujirô Ozu 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Tadao Ikeda 
Yasujirô Ozu 
Takao Yanai 

Original Music by
Kyoichi Saiki 
Cinematography by
Yûharu Atsuta 
Film Editing by
Yoshiyasu Hamamura 
Art Direction by
Tatsuo Hamada 
Set Decoration by
Shôtarô Hashimoto 
Toshiaki Shimizu 
Costume Design by
Taizô Saitô 
Makeup Department
Kiyoko Takagawa .... hair stylist
Production Management
Rishichirô Isono .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Nobuo Nishikawa .... assistant director
Kiyoshi Suzuki .... assistant director
Yoshio Tsukamoto .... assistant director
Kôzô Yamamoto .... assistant director
Art Department
Yakichi Otani .... set designer
Sound Department
Mitsuru Kaneko .... sound recordist
Rokusaburô Saitô .... sound effects editor
Yoshisaburô Senoo .... sound
Yoshihito Takagake .... sound recordist
Akitaka Yoshida .... sound recordist
Camera and Electrical Department
Seiji Inoue .... camera operator
Kazuji Naito .... gaffer
Takeshi Saitô .... camera operator
Kazuo Suzuki .... camera operator
Yoshikazu Takeuma .... camera operator
Other crew
Hidesaburô Fujioka .... title designer
Chikara Inomata .... archivist
Fumikazu Miyagishima .... film development
Takeo Tajiri .... stage manager

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Chichi ariki" - Japan (original title)
See more »
USA:94 min | Japan:94 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
Immovable vision, 16 March 2012
Author: chaos-rampant from Greece

One more step in Ozu's long journey of trying to balance between a cinematic eye that sees with clarity into the disasters of dramatic life and reflections of that eye, his most famous films still ahead of him. French and Soviet silent filmmakers innovated in the 20's by looking to see the seeing eye in action, shaping, morphing world with vision. Ozu introduced something altogether different: non-mind, nothingness between eye and world.

This was a completely novel thing at the time in terms of cinema - although it's supported by a rich Buddhist tradition.

Even Ozu seemed unsure how to handle it. Cultivating this took him time. It is possible for example, that being a young Japanese cinephile fascinated with modern Western culture, he thought for a time that he was only reworking Chaplin, a visual story, pared down to essentials. He dabbled for a time with a fluid camera, after Sternberg. He did a chamber drama, controlled, stagebound environment, very German.

But at some point, he must have suspected this had potential to go much deeper than anyone had envisioned at the time. I believe the key transition was Dragnet Girl from '33: a gangster film, very upbeat and jazzy, pure Sternberg razzle-dazzle, that is until the finale, where the modern movie night of danger and intrigue gave way to the clarity and stillness of the first morning light.

This was great. He had discovered the eye, a landscape painter's eye, but not yet the right landscape. He spent the next couple of films looking. It should be life, he knew this much, but what kind of life?

Now this. The story is about a teacher scarred by an accident he couldn't prevent, and efforts of his surrounding world to extricate him from the exile of self-imposed guilt. He sends his son away, to study, work hard and advance himself. He keeps himself away, somewhere in Tokyo, and only periodically surfaces back from we presume a frugal existence. At a class reunion with his former pupils, he is reminded, urged to consider, that the world is moving ahead, still turning. All his pupils are grown men, married, most of them with kids.

So what a change from earlier fathers Ozu portrayed, often itinerant bums, a source of dismay or embarrassment for their kids. Here's a father who is hardened, by his own failures no less, resolute, preaching to his son that "work should be considered every man's mission" and to "serve your country".

There is of course the obvious comment to be made about wartime allegory and the call for patriotic action, by itself not very interesting. Sons of Japan urged forward by a strict but well-meaning father. Incidentally, that same year was when tides of war started turning in the Pacific, blowing back towards Tokyo and destruction.

But there is more here, for the first time. Now if we only listen to the story, the father is a tragic hero and a model to emulate. The dutiful son goes away in the finale, presumably to strive to fulfil his father's wishes. The parting image is one of many poignantly still shots.

So far Ozu had favored dramatic resolution of that stillness - Floating Weeds, Tokyo Inn - and at first glance this is no different. But these images reveal a more complicated world beneath the story.

Consider the plot again. The traumatizing event occurs because the father is not there to see. This is understandable; we cannot keep the whole world in check. It turns independent of us, transient, impermanent flow. The event also happens away from our sight, but in place of it we have a perspective the father lacks. At the crucial moment, Ozu cuts away to a shot of an ornamental stone top on a vertical post of a bridge. Now images of bridges feature prominently in Japanese iconography, signifiers among other things of what the Buddhist understand as the floating world. Distances in old Japan were traditionally measured from the great Nihonbashi bridge, the center of a symbolic axis mundi.

There is no motion from this point of stillness in our film, although we know a plot is being set in motion in the flow of transient waters below, a life being lost.

How does the father handle this? Distraught from the tragedy, he takes off with his son on a train. Not having made his peace with the fact, he later removes himself from sight of his son, who needs him more than anything else. And how does the son? He becomes the father he's been effectively deprived of, this broken man infused with values from that loss. In the finale he sails off into the night, onboard another train.

Trains; man-made, mechanical structures of life, human karmas in motion.

On the other hand, an immovable spot above the waters, clarity, dispassion, centered vision.

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