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Mother
(Okaasan)

Screening on Film
Directed by Mikio Naruse.
With Kyoko Kagawa, Eiji Okada, Kinuyo Tanaka.
Japan, 1952, 35mm, black & white, 98 min.
Japanese with English subtitles.
Print source: The Japan Foundation

A perennial favorite of Japanese cinema, Mother is also a somewhat uncharacteristic work for Mikio Naruse, one of the few humorous films in an oeuvre better known for dark melodrama. Tanaka stars as a recent widow with three children struggling to manage her husband’s dry-cleaning business. While seemingly told from the point of view of her eldest daughter, Mother ultimately centers upon Tanaka in an unabashedly sentimental hymn to maternal self-sacrifice and dedication. Nevertheless, a certain edge becomes evident as Tanaka’s self-deprecation takes on an unsettling, obsessive quality.

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