Yasujiro Ozu

The Only Son

The Only Son

Yasujiro Ozu’s first talkie, the uncommonly poignant The Only Son is among the Japanese director’s greatest works. In its simple story about a good-natured mother who gives up everything to ensure her son’s education and future, Ozu touches on universal themes of sacrifice, family, love, and disappointment. Spanning many years, The Only Son is a family portrait in miniature, shot and edited with its maker’s customary exquisite control.

Film Info

  • Yasujiro Ozu
  • Japan
  • 1936
  • 82 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.33:1
  • Japanese
  • Spine #525

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital transfer
  • New video interviews with film scholars Tadao Sato, David Bordwell, and Kristin Thompson
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic and historian Tony Rayns

Available In

Collector's Set

The Only Son/There Was a Father: Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu

The Only Son/There Was a Father

DVD Box Set

2 Discs

$31.96

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital transfer
  • New video interviews with film scholars Tadao Sato, David Bordwell, and Kristin Thompson
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic and historian Tony Rayns
The Only Son
Cast
Choko Iida
Tsune Nonomiya
Shinichi Himori
Ryosuke (adult)
Masao Hayama
Ryosuke (child)
Yoshiko Tsubouchi
Sugiko
Mitsuko Yoshikawa
Otaka
Chishu Ryu
Okubo
Credits
Director
Yasujiro Ozu
Story
James Maki (a.k.a. Yasujiro Ozu)
Screenplay
Tadao Ikeda
Screenplay
Masao Arata
Cinematography
Shojiro Sugimoto
Sound
Hideo Mohara
Sound
Eiichi Hesegawa
Art director
Tatsuo Hamada
Music
Senji Ito

From The Current

The Only Son: Japan, 1936
The Only Son: Japan, 1936

At the author’s request, Japanese names are given here in their traditional form: surname first. Nineteen thirty-six was a decisive year for imperial Japan, marked by extreme violence at home and abroad. In the very early morning of February 26,…

By Tony Rayns

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The Signature Style of Yasujiro Ozu
The Signature Style of Yasujiro Ozu

With his singular and unwavering style, Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu disregarded the established rules of cinema and created a visual language all his own. Precise compositions, contemplative pacing, low camera angles, and elliptical storytelling a…

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Yasujiro Ozu

Director

Yasujiro Ozu has often been called the “most Japanese” of Japan’s great directors. From 1927, the year of his debut for Shochiku studios, to 1962, when, a year before his death at age sixty, he made his final film, Ozu consistently explored the rhythms and tensions of a country trying to reconcile modern and traditional values, especially as played out in relations between the generations. Though he is best known for his sobering 1953 masterpiece Tokyo Story, the apex of his portrayals of the changing Japanese family, Ozu began his career in the thirties, in a more comedic, though still socially astute, mode, with such films as I Was Born, But . . . and Dragnet Girl. He then gradually mastered the domestic drama during the war years and afterward, employing both physical humor, as in Good Morning, and distilled drama, as in Late Spring, Early Summer, and Floating Weeds. Though Ozu was discovered relatively late in the Western world, his trademark rigorous style—static shots, often from the vantage point of someone sitting low on a tatami mat; patient pacing; moments of transcendence as represented by the isolated beauty of everyday objects—has been enormously influential among directors seeking a cinema of economy and poetry.