There Was a Father (1942)




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.
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Criterion Collection


Chishu Ryu
as Shuhei Horikawa
Shin Saburi
as Yasutaro Kurokawa
Shûji Sano
as Ryohei
Takeshi Sakamoto
as Makoto Hirata

News & Interviews for There Was a Father

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 20, 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


Chishu Ryu gives it his all, and the film's final act is strong, but it meanders too much for me to appreciate it as the masterpiece I've read it is.

Gabriel Deitz
Gabriel Deitz

good little father-son melodrama, but just a fair warning the Criterion transfer is one of their WORST yet (albeit I hear prints from early 40's Japanese movies in general suck no matter how much you try to restore them). It's moreso the audio than the video; if you're one those few looking to just watch the film without subtitles, you'll have a tough time.

Jack Gattanella
Jack Gattanella

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
danny d

Super Reviewer

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