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There Was a Father
(Chichi Ariki)

Screening on Film
Directed by Yasujiro Ozo.
With Chishu Ryu, Shuji Sano, Shinichi Himori.
Japan, 1942, 35mm, black & white, 94 min.
Japanese with English subtitles.

There Was a Father chronicles the relationship of a widower and his son over two decades. The father is a strict, unyielding teacher who reflects the wartime ideology of self-sacrifice and stoicism in his belief that “everyone must do his duty.” When a student drowns on an outing, the teacher takes responsibility, quits his profession, and takes his son to live in his hometown in the country. Father and son are soon separated, their visits becoming less frequent as the ambitious boy moves to Tokyo to continue his education. Structured around a series of quiet talks between the widower and his son, the film enjoins people not to give vent to their feelings, especially not to cry, and then overwhelms its audience with intensely concentrated emotion.

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