an upset young man grasps an older woman who also holds his handalr

A Mother Should Be Loved
(Haha wo kowazuya)

Live Musical Accompaniment by Robert Humphreville
Screening on Film
Directed by Ozu Yasujiro.
With Obinata Den, Mitsui Hideo, Yoshikawa Mitsuko.
Japan, 1934, 35mm, black & white, silent, 73 min.
Japanese intertitles with English subtitles.
Print source: Janus Films

Ozu originally wished for the title of A Mother Should be Loved to be Tokyo Twilight, but the studio requested something more topically specific. Though the 1957 film Ozu eventually titled Tokyo Twilight is widely regarded as a masterwork, A Mother Should be Loved is its overlooked but essential precedent. After the Kajiwara patriarch’s passing, his eldest son Sadao (Obinata Den) learns that that the woman who raised him (Chieko, played by Yoshikawa Mitsuko) is his father’s second wife. Sadao suspects that Chieko treats him and his half-brother Kosaku (Mitsui Hideo) differently, but Ozu does not supply any easy answers as to whether or not the accusation is true. Ozu’s interest as a filmmaker lies in delivering two entwined lessons: the mother must acknowledge that she has made mistakes; the sons must love their mother in spite of her mistakes and their different parentages. The film’s concentration of conflict almost entirely within the home marks an important pivot for Ozu as his films turn further inward. The faint details of the outside world—death, debts, delinquency—are only important insofar as they propel the family to transcend false lines of division and grow closer.

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