There Was a Father (1942)

There Was a Father


No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...


Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

A widowed high school teacher finds that the more he tries to do what is best for his son's future, the more they are separated.

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Yasujiro Ozu, Tadao Ikeda
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 31, 2010
Criterion Collection



as Shuhei Horikawa

as Yasutaro Kurokawa

as Ryohei

as Makoto Hirata

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Critic Reviews for There Was a Father

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (3)

Within the framework of the aching melodrama the director daringly highlights the weight of tradition and duty that crushes the individual spirit.

Full Review… | January 21, 2014
New Yorker
Top Critic

A delicate, straightforward exhortation to duty and sacrifice, presented with both humor and a kind of unforced serenity.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The issue of separation acquired a particular poignancy in wartime, it goes without saying, but Ryu's stoic underplaying offers a heartbreaking performance for the ages.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Time Out
Top Critic

... an indisputable masterpiece, a work of grace and simplicity that feels as timeless now as it was timely then.

Full Review… | August 11, 2010
Parallax View

a poignant, even tragic portrait of the nature of sacrifice

Full Review… | July 16, 2010
Q Network Film Desk

An almost unwittingly political, (unusual for Ozu) as well as artistic, triumph.

Full Review… | July 16, 2010
Combustible Celluloid

Audience Reviews for There Was a Father

a vastly underrated ozu classic. there was a surprising political element, rare for ozu even during the wartime censorship, but that didnt overwhelm the film or detract form the powerful premise at all. as a parent, this film is gut wrenching. a father maintains a surprising level of affection from his son despite hampering their relationship as he punishes himself for a mistake made while his son was a young boy. the culture of japan at the time is portrayed with clarity that is educational for us today, and the ozu trademarks that become more evident later in his career appear in this film in spurts. ryu is his usual steady self, and the film hits home well in a short and effective running time.

danny d

Super Reviewer

A disappointing effort from Ozu. The premise is somewhat similar to that of The Only Son and the dynamics between the father and the son is similar to that of the daughter and father in Late Spring. The father played by Chishu Ryu supports his son through high school and college by working in Tokyo away from him. They have a very close relationship and the brief moments they spend together throughout their years apart are their happiest times. I liked the first half of the film, but the decision of the father to stay separate when they meet again in the second half is less than believable and more like war time propaganda. Even though the ending subverts the propagandistic elements this still makes the characters less compelling than what you are used to from Ozu. Also dramatically this is really bland, even by Ozu's standards. Especially the second half doesn't really offer many memorable scenes.

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