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Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu (The Only Son / There Was a Father) (The Criterion Collection) (1936)

Chishu Ryu , Yasujiro Ozu  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu (The Only Son / There Was a Father) (The Criterion Collection) + Eclipse Series 10: Silent Ozu - Three Family Comedies (Tokyo Chorus / I Was Born But... / Passing Fancy) (The Criterion Collection) + Eclipse Series 3: Late Ozu (Early Spring / Tokyo Twilight / Equinox Flower / Late Autumn / The End of Summer) (The Criterion Collection)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Chishu Ryu
  • Directors: Yasujiro Ozu
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • DVD Release Date: July 13, 2010
  • Run Time: 169 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003ICZW7S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #183,080 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu (The Only Son / There Was a Father) (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital transfers
  • Interviews with Tadao Sato, David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson
  • New and improved English subtitle translations
  • PLUS: Booklets featuring essays by Tony Rayns, Chishu Ryu and Donald Richie

  • Editorial Reviews

    Product Description

    These rare early films from Yasujiro Ozu (Tokyo Story, An Autumn Afternoon) are considered by many to be two of the Japanese director’s finest works, paving the way for a career among the most sensitive and significant in film history. The Only Son and There Was a Father make a graceful pair, bookending a crucial period in Japanese history. In the former, Ozu’s first sound film, made during a time of intense economic crisis, a mother sacrifices her own happiness for her son’s education; the latter, released in the midst of World War II, stars Ozu stalwart Chishu Ryu (Late Spring, Tokyo Story) as a widowed schoolteacher trying to raise a son despite financial hardship. Criterion proudly presents these nearly lost treasures for the first time on home video.

    Master of the domestic drama, Yasujirô Ozu honors selfless parents in this harmonious pair (both even feature similar shots of women with bundles on their backs). In 1936's The Only Son, his first sound feature, Tsune (Chôko Iida, very affecting) scrimps and saves to provide 15-year-old Ryosuke with a proper education. Twelve years later, the widow visits him in Tokyo, the same path his instructor, Mr. Okubo (Ozu favorite Chishû Ryû), once traveled, but Ryosuke (Shinichi Himori) neglected to tell her about his wife, child, and low-paying night-school job. Her disappointment melts as he proves his mettle during a family crisis. As film scholar David Bordwell notes, it's "a somber story" compared to Ozu's silent comedies.

    In 1942's semi-autobiographical There Was a Father, Ryû returns as a widower with a 12-year-old son. (While the father in The Only Son barely rates a mention, Shuhei speaks about his late wife as if she were still alive.) After a class trip goes awry, he trades teaching for factory work and sends Ryohei off to boarding school. Thirteen years later, the father has advanced to an office job and the son has become a teacher, but Ryohei (Shûji Sano) regrets the time they lost even as he respects Shuhei's choices. While this World War II-era film works best on a personal level, the father's sacrifice also reflects a citizen's duty to his country.

    If the quality of these prints isn't ideal, the imperfections fail to detract from the timelessness of the stories. The set comes complete with notes from Tony Rayns and Donald Richie, and interviews with Kristin Thompson, who looks at the films as precursors for Ozu's postwar classics, and Tadao Sato, who puts The Only Son into a historical context, concluding that this deceptively simple work "never fails to move me." --Kathleen C. Fennessy

    Customer Reviews

    4.2 out of 5 stars
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    28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Two more from one of the masters of Japanese cinema April 21, 2010
    A widowed high school teacher named Horikawa (Chishu Ryu) experiences a There Was a Fathertraumatic episode during a school field trip and consequently, decides to abandon his profession and move to a small town where his son, Ryohei may obtain a good education. However, unable to earn enough money to pay for Ryohei's boarding school, Horikawa decides to return to Tokyo to find a better paying job. The separation between father and son would prove to be permanent and irreversible, as Ryohei completes his studies and becomes a schoolteacher in a rural province while his father continues to work in Tokyo. The film is a more sentimentally subdued - but nevertheless, affecting - quintessential Ozu home drama on parental obligation and the inevitable dissolution of family. At this juncture, Ozu's camera is more static and understated (similar to Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family), such as the repeated extended sequence of father and son fishing in synchrony at a lake: first, when Ryohei was a young boy, then later, as a grown man vacationing with his father at a resort.

    The Only Son is a quintessential Ozu home drama on the relationship between a widowed mother (Choko Iida) and her son, Ryosuke. Encouraged by her son's ambitious elementary school teacher (Chishu Ryu), the mother slaves at a silk manufacturing factory, sacrificing personal and financial comfort and security, in order to support Ryosuke's education so that he may grow up to be a "great man". Thirteen years later, she travels to Tokyo to visit Ryosuke and finds that that his once seemingly bright future has become quashed by limited opportunity and personal obligations. Alternately poignant, comical, and bittersweet, the film is a thoughtful exposition of Ozu's familiar themes of familiar estrangement and acceptance of life's inevitable disappointments.
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    2.0 out of 5 stars THE ONLY SON: Sound Clunker October 19, 2014

    Film = 1.5 stars; restoration = 0.5 star. With films from Japan's "classical" era (roughly the first 65 years or so of the 20th Century) released by restoration labels, viewers often gets a red flag within the first few minutes. Sometimes even before the opening credits have ended. If little or no restoration has occurred, the restoration releasing label has obviously made the financial decision that the film is not worth spending much/any restoration resources on it. For this movie, the restoration warning banner can be seen flashing when the opening credits begin! The photoplay is the director's first sound film and was released in 1936 (seems like switching to sound was avoided until the studio finally put its proverbial foot down). The story is a typical tragedy from the midst of Japan's Great Depression: very sad with an even sadder ending. Two somber scenes especially seem to stand out. One is the first serious family discussion held right next to Tokyo's huge garbage incineration facilities. Another shows an uber sacrificing grandmother weeping while watching her first sound film--an untitled romantic fantasy in German. The grandmother character could also be weeping for the film she has been cast in (and the actress would certainly have sufficient reason to do so!) Acting is undistinguished and fairly mediocre (about a third of it is "back acting"), direction is exceedingly slow paced and often boring, sound and cinematography are hard to judge given the lack of restoration, music is note-by-note ripped off from Stephen Foster, and clotheslines with underwear (a director's fetish) are in full bloom (clothes never seem to dry, since they remain on the same lines and in the same positions for the duration of the film!).
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    3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Two more Ozu films from Criterion December 26, 2010
    Verified Purchase
    This set contains two films by Yasujiro Ozu, one of the greatest Japanese filmmakers of all time and one of the most prolific.

    The first film, The Only Son, is about a woman who makes many sacrifices to make sure her son receives a proper education. The disc also includes new interviews with three film scholars.

    The second film, There Was a Father, is about a widowed schoolteacher who discovers that his efforts to educate him are alienating him instead. The disc includes new interviews with two film scholars.

    This is a set that has great films but will be more appreciated by fans of Ozu.
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    0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Grateful to have more Ozu October 13, 2012
    Verified Purchase
    There are still three or four of Ozu's finest films that have yet been released to the West, "A Hen in the Wind" and "Green Tea Over Rice", to name two. So, we are grateful for these outstanding early "talkies" of his.
    They are both masterworks. Highly recommended.
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    0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful films March 24, 2013
    By MSN
    Verified Purchase
    Yasujiro Ozu is a wonderful film-maker, of course.

    These films are hard to find... but here they are.
    A wonderful addition to our film collection.
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