There Was a Father, 1942

A widowed high school teacher named Horikawa (Chishu Ryu) experiences a traumatic episode during a school field trip and consequently, decides to abandon his profession and move to a small town where his son, Ryohei may obtain a good education. However, unable to earn enough money to pay for Ryohei’s boarding school, Horikawa decides to return to Tokyo to find a better paying job. The separation between father and son would prove to be permanent and irreversible, as Ryohei completes his studies and becomes a schoolteacher in a rural province while his father continues to work in Tokyo. There Was a Father is a more sentimentally subdued – but nevertheless, affecting – quintessential Ozu home drama on parental obligation and the inevitable dissolution of family. At this juncture, Ozu’s camera is more static and understated (similar to Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family), such as the repeated extended sequence of father and son fishing in synchrony at a lake: first, when Ryohei was a young boy, then later, as a grown man vacationing with his father at a resort.

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