The Kajiwara family’s carefree life is shattered when the patriarch dies of a heart attack. Eight years later, the elder son Sadao discovers that he is not his mother Chieko’s biological son. He rejects her love until he is upbraided by a family friend. They move to a more modest home in the country but when the boys reach college age, Chieko’s favoritism to her stepson causes a rift in the household, and Sadao runs away to live with a prostitute. Chieko begs him to come home but his cruel words infuriate even the brothel’s maid. Eventually, he repents and returns to her fold. —Ozu-san.com
Yasujiro Ozu was born in the old Fukagawa district of Tokyo, to a fertilizer merchant, in 1903. In 1923, after a couple of years as an assistant teacher in rural Japan, Ozu was hired as assistant cameraman at the Shochiku Motion Picture Company. Early in his career, Ozu began to experiment with an idiosyncratic film style that ran contrary to the conventions of Japanese or Hollywood cinema of the day. He strove to reduce and simplify his film style; he cast such mainstays as the fade, the dissolve, and the pan from his cinematic palette. He shot solely from a low camera angle, using a 50mm lens, and he subordinated spatial continuity to visual aesthetics. Ozu directed his first film in 1927,The Sword of Penitence. In 1932, he began to hit his creative stride with the touching comedy I Was Born, But…, which was his first commercial success. During World War II, he made few films such as There Was a Father.
After the war, Ozu reached his creative peak and made some of his finest… read more
this touching film is imbued with a sense of loss right from the opening sequence of the two brothers leaving school to face the future without a father. The disclosure that the older boy had a different mother leads Ozu to explore that unfathomable gulf that eventuates with scenes of unbearable sadness as the boys grow up, and apart. Ozu lets us experience this pain with devastating subtlety and serene performances.
Late Ozu silent, currently shown missing the first and last reels (luckily, given the mass of Japanese silent films completely missing, 70 minutes remain), about the immediate impact the untimely death of a father has on two sons and their working, struggling mother. Ozu would rework and refine this kind of drama for the rest of her career.
Despite missing its first and last reels, this silent Ozu melodrama is still an excellent addition to his filmography. Mitsuko Yoshikawa gives a moving performance as the titular Mother, struggling to bring up her two sons after the sudden death of her husband. A long kept family secret then comes out into the open and creates further difficulties for all concerned...