Yasujiro Ozu’s frequent leading man Chishu Ryu is riveting as Shuhei, a widowed high school teacher who finds that the more he tries to do what is best for his son’s future, the more they are separated. Though primarily a delicately wrought story of parental love, There Was a Father offers themes of sacrifice that were deemed appropriately patriotic by Japanese censors at the time of its release during World War II, making it a uniquely political film in Ozu’s body of work. —The Criterion Collection
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
Neither a rousing propaganda piece (though this officially designated "kokumin eiga" or "people's film" was deemed to be an exemplary national policy effort and, given its ideologically conformative nature, not without merit) nor any sort of a resolutely anti-war screed (at that point in time Ozu was very much a nationalist and even came very close to realizing his goal of making a war film in order to revisit and affirm the time he spent in the army), There Was a Father contains quite possibly Ozu's most spare and elliptically poetic depiction of life—one that represents the abstract Japanese notions of loyalty and self-sacrifice while acknowledging the resulting emotional and spiritual loss required to be borne.
The Master is evident right from the first shot. We see an outdoor walkway, perhaps a park, with railing and streetlamps beautifully framed by large trees. A few people walk, one at a time, into the… read review