Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu (Criterion): The Only Son (1936)
These rare early films from Yasujiro Ozu 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 cinema. 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 as a widowed schoolteacher whose devotion to his son ends up driving them apart. Criterion proudly presents these nearly lost treasures for the first time on home video.
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.
Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu (Criterion): There Was a Father (1942)
Yasujiro Ozu's frequent leading man Chishu Ryu is riveting as Shuhei, a widowed high school teacher who finds that the more he tries to do what is best for his son's future, the more they are separated. Though primarily a delicately wrought story of parental love, There Was a Father offers themes of sacrifice that were deemed appropriately patriotic by Japanese censors at the time of its release during World War II, making it a uniquely political film in Ozu's body of work.