Chichi ariki

Black and White . 88 minutes

Shochiku Ofuna Studio

Written By

Ozu Yasujiro
Ikeda Tadao
Yakao Takao


Atsuta Yuharu

Music By

Saiki Kyoichi


Ryu Chishu (Horikawa Shuhei)
Sano Shuji (Ryohei)
Tsuda Haruhiko (Ryonei as a child)
Saburi Shin (Kurokawa Yasutaro)
Sakamoto Takeshi (Hirata Makoto)
Mito Mitsuko (Fumi)
Otsuka Masayoshi (Seiichi)
Himori Shinichi (Uchida Minoru)

School teacher and widower Horikawa takes his students on an outing. When one of them drowns accidentally, he feels responsible and resigns. To give his son a good education, he leaves him at a boarding school, while he makes a living alone in Tokyo. Father and son share some brief moments of intimacy together, on a fishing trip or at a hot spring. But most of their lives, they are separated. Even though the grown-up Ryohei offers to live with him in Tokyo, Horikawa admonishes him to fulfill his duty as a teacher in faraway Akita. After a reunion with old students, and arranging a marriage for Ryohei, Horikawa dies at the height of happiness.

Thoughts from Ozu
I think Ryu Chishu has made huge progress since playing the father who runs a tonkatsu (fried porkchop) joint. I wonder where Tsuda Haruhiko who played the son as a boy has gone. I'd really like to meet him once. The story came from a script I wrote a long time ago. I believe that film becomes more subtle and refined as time goes by, so it won't do to take a script from olden days and just use it without making the necessary amendments Even though it was my own creation, I still made change after change, but hopefully it is an improvement on the old version. After completing the script for The Far-Away Country of My Parents (Haruka nari fubo no kuni), I went off to Southeast Asia and didn't come back until 1946. There should be a copy of the script, though it could have been lost in that fire. It was meant to be an army film starring Ry Chishu which would have been fun. However, I heard that the image of military officers I portrayed did not concur with the authorities. They seemed to think soldiers should be stronger and more courageous. I had no choice but to scrap the project. I was not very prolific during this period at all. Still, as long as I remained in Japan, I would maintain an input of at least one a year. If it weren't for the war, I'm sure there would be at least seven more titles on my filmography.


he 39th film, shot from October 1941 to March 1942. This is a screenplay adapted from a homonymous script that Ozu had written together with Ikeda Tadao and Yanai Takao in a mere two moths, just before going to the front, in September 1939. Five days after the completion of the screenplay, Ozu received the induction order of the army. The management of the Kamata studios (in other words, Kido Shiro) did not entrust another director and waited for Ozu to come back. However, when Ozu finally could film this screenplay, after the completion of Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family in 1941, four years had passed and the times had drastically changed. The three writers had to revise the screenplay completely. There are big differences between the original screenplay of 1937 and the completed film. For example, the town where father and son live in the beginning changed from Matsumoto to Kanazawa. The removal to Ueda is due to a friend's request in the first version, but in the film, the father wants to return to his ancestors' grave. The removal from Matsumoto to Ueda (in the original screenplay) is a movement within the same Shinshu region. However, the removal from seaside Kanazawa to the mountainous Ueda (in the film) signifies a complete geographical change, and the boy's disorientation and loneliness increases even more. Furthermore, the father's wandering about is stressed by the fact that his ancestors have lived far away in Ueda. In the original screenplay, the son cannot find work and goes to live with this father in the suburbs of Tokyo, which he does not in the film. In a very beautiful scene in the film, father and son meet in a spa, and the father admonishes his son to give his best at work and fulfill his duty. In the same scene in the original screenplay, father and son go to a public bath, and although showing his discontent, the father consoles his impatient son. Made in a period which bore the distinctive marks of wartime, There Was a Father could not escape the tendency of the time in the details. Therefore, many parts of this film were out at the time of re-release after the war (especially the parts of the class meeting), making it the most cut film of Ozu.

Articles / Essays
There Was a Father: Duty Calls
by Tony Rayns (Criterion)

Personal Thoughts and Comments
There Was A Father is one of only two films Ozu made during the war, yet ironically this may be his most peaceful and quiet film. Just about every film Ozu has made is simplistic in approach, but this may actually be his most simplistic film. There is no direct reference to the war, but rather a deeply sympathetic father-son relationship (in contrast to his more traditional father-daughter relationship) which details the importance of the parent and the separation of family. I'm not sure if the camera ever even moves, and there are some definitive Ozu pillow shots. Ozu regular Chishu Ryu, who starred in almost all of his films, gives yet another brilliant subtle performance.

Film Images

"Pillow Shots"
A clip from There Was A Father
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