The Only Son

(Hitori musuko)


Shinichi Himori, Choko Iida, Chishu Ryu, Yoshiko Tsubouchi,

Yasujiro Ozu converted to the sound film late—1936—and incorporated the “new” medium into his rigorous style. Film theorist Noel Burch called The Only Son, Ozu’s first sound feature, “his supreme achievement.” The story has an O. Henry–like irony out of which Ozu has fashioned one of his most emotional films, “filled with originality, integrity, and the sharpest kind of observation” (Donald Richie). A widowed mother who has worked for years to send her son to college spends her entire savings on a visit to her “successful” son. He, being unemployed and impoverished, must borrow money to put her up. Ozu’s use of sound highlights the industrial backdrop against which the story is set, from the mother’s simple grinding of rice flour to the hum of the factory machines. Burch noted that Ozu uses sound to increase the autonomy of the image and allowed that The Only Son is “his most radical experiment with the division between the verbal and spatio-temporal parameters.”

  • Tadao Ikeda
  • Masao Arata
Based On
  • an original idea by "James Maki" (Ozu)

  • Shojiro Sugimoto
  • Japanese
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • B&W
  • 35mm
  • 82 mins
  • Janus Films

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