A mother looks over at her pouting young sonalr

Record of a Tenement Gentleman
(Nagaya shinshiroku)

Screening on Film
Directed by Ozu Yasujiro.
With Ryu Chishu, Iida Choko, Sakamoto Takeshi.
Japan, 1947, 35mm, black & white, 72 min.
Japanese with English subtitles.
Print source: HFA

After his return from a POW camp near Singapore in 1946, Ozu immediately reentered the studio system and wrote the script for Record of a Tenement Gentleman in twelve days. Although the film was not especially well-received, and Ozu admitted to being tired and rushed while making it, there is a profound purity to its lack of polish. Encouraged by her neighbors (including Sakamoto Takeshi's Kihachi), childless widow Otane (Iida Choko) reluctantly takes in Kohei (Aoki Hohi), a boy whose father has disappeared following the bombing of their house. Otane finds the boy irritating and burdensome, but over time the two form a special relationship—a bond that stands out among Ozu’s many depictions of relatives linked by blood or marriage. Ozu does not hide that Otane’s trajectory from unkind stranger to selfless caregiver is intended to stir feelings of hope among an Occupation-era audience. But the sensitivity of Iida Choko’s performance as Otane and Aoki Hohi’s timidity as Kohei elevates Record of a Tenement Gentleman several stories above the flatness of a postwar parable.



Part of film series

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Ozu 120: The Complete Ozu Yasujiro