There Was a Father

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
There Was a Father
Directed by Yasujirō Ozu
Written by Tadao Ikeda
Yasujirō Ozu
Takao Anai
Starring Mitsuko Mito
Chishū Ryū
Shin Saburi
Cinematography Yushun Atsuta
Release date
  • April 1, 1942 (1942-04-01)
Running time
94 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

There Was a Father is a 1942 Japanese film directed by Yasujirō Ozu.

Plot summary[edit]

Shuhei Horikawa (Chishū Ryū) works as a mathematics schoolteacher in a middle school. A widower, he has a ten-year-old son named Ryohei (Haruhiko Tsuda), who studies in the same school. While taking his class out for an excursion one day, one of his pupils drowns after running off with a classmate on a secret boat trip. Shuhei blames himself for the accident, and quits his teaching job out of remorse.

Shuhei enrolls his son to a junior high school in Ueda, where Ryohei studies as a boarder, and goes to work in Tokyo to finance his son's education.

Years pass. The 25-year-old Ryohei (Shuji Sano) has finished college and himself becomes a schoolteacher in Akita. Shuhei now works as a clerk in a Tokyo textile factory and the two meet occasionally. Ryohei has thoughts of quitting his teaching job to join his father at Tokyo, but Shuhei rebukes him for not doing what his duty decrees. Ryohei takes a ten-day vacation to join his father in Tokyo. Together with retired headmaster Makoto Hirata (Takeshi Sakamoto), Shuhei attends a get-together with his former pupils and the group reminisce about their school days. When Shuhei returns home, he suffers a stroke and is admitted to the hospital. Asking Hirata's daughter Fumiko (Mitsuko Mito) to take care of his son, he dies soon after. The final scene shows Ryohei and his new wife Fumiko returning to Akita, with the urn containing his father's ashes resting on the luggage rack; the two have agreed to live together with Hirata and Fumiko's younger brother.


Yasujirō Ozu wrote the first draft of There Was a Father before he went to China in 1937. On returning to Japan, he re-wrote it again, feeling that "it could still be improved".[1]


There Was a Father was released on April 1, 1942.[2] The only existing prints of the film were cut by Douglas MacArthur's censors for postwar rereleases.[3]


There Was a Father placed second in the Kinema Junpo's annual critics' poll of Japan's Best Ten films.[3] It currently has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[4] Trevor Johnston of Time Out praised Ryu's performance, arguing that the actor's "stoic underplaying offers a heartbreaking performance for the ages."[5] Richard Brody of The New Yorker wrote, "In such chilling nuances as Shuhei’s silent grief, his rigid deference to authority, his joyful anticipation of Ryohei’s military service, and Ryohei’s serene lessons on the destructive power of TNT, Ozu reveals a society heading blindly toward the abyss and destroying its future in the name of the past."[6]

Home media[edit]

There Was a Father was released on DVD along with Ozu's The Only Son by The Criterion Collection on July 13, 2010.[7]

In 2011, the BFI released a Region 2 DVD of the film as a bonus feature on its Dual Format Edition (Blu-ray + DVD) of Equinox Flower.[8]


  1. ^ Richie, 1977. p.229
  2. ^ Richie, 1977. p.228
  3. ^ a b Rayns, Tony (July 13, 2010). "There Was a Father:Duty Calls". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved December 19, 2010. 
  4. ^ "There Was a Father (1942)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 30, 2017. 
  5. ^ Johnston, Trevor. "There Was a Father". Time Out. Retrieved January 30, 2017. 
  6. ^ Brody, Richard. "There Was a Father". The New Yorker. Retrieved January 30, 2017. 
  7. ^ "The Only Son/There Was a Father [Criterion Collection] [2 Discs]". Allmovie. Retrieved December 19, 2010. 
  8. ^


External links[edit]