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(aka 'Chichi ariki' or 'There Was a Father")

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/ozu.htm
Japan 1942

 

Paternal authority is unquestionably ascendant in Ozu s powerful war-time drama There Was a Father which is included here. Shuhei Horikawa (Chishu Ryu) sacrifices his teaching career after an unfortunate accident but refuses to sacrifice the education of his only son.

***

I honestly think that this may eclipse both "Late Spring" and "Tokyo Story" as my very favorite Ozu film. It is possibly his most simplistic narrative, again dealing with familial communication - this time a father and son. All the noted Ozu signatures are here with an early shot of derricked hydro-electric lines and a few trains, also shots of solitary smoking characters and camaraderie drinking of alcoholic beverages. I enjoyed Ozu regular Chishu Ryu in his relative youthful appearance. This is a bit unique from Ozu's other films in that there are an abundance of static shots (almost like postcards) that pop up usually without musical accompaniment (or very light traditional music audio). The film is so expressive with strong overtones of love and respect filling many scenes. There Was a Father is an extremely quiet, subtle and peaceful film - one which I crave deeply to continue to revisit. Frankly this may be Ozu's best film - unrecognized because of the poor condition of the print and therefore lack of availability. It rates a heartfelt out of .

Gary Tooze

Theatrical Release: April 1st, 1942 - Tokyo

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Comparison:

Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC vs. BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Panorama (Hong Kong) - Region 3 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine # 526 - Region 1 - NTSC

BFI

Region 'B'  - Blu-ray

Runtime 1:26:48  1:27:09 1:26:53.208
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.30 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.19 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 44,031,829,529 bytes

Feature: 18,665,158,656 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate: Panorama
Bitrate: Criterion
Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio  Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0)  Japanese (Dolby Digital 1.0) LPCM Audio Japanese 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, Traditional Chinese, None English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Panorama

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Ozu Biography (text screen)
• Ozu Filmography (text screen)

DVD Release Date: June 20th, 2005

Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• New video interview with film scholars, David Bordwell, and Kristin Thompson
• 30-page liner notes booklet featuring essays by critic and historian Tony Rayns, an appreciation of actor Chishu Ryu by Japanese film scholar Donald Richie, and comments by Ryu on director Yasujiro Ozu

DVD Release Date: July 13th, 2010

Transparent Keep Case (package has 2 individual keep cases inside a cardboard box)
Chapters: 1
6

Release Information:
Studio: BFI.

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 44,031,829,529 bytes

Feature: 18,665,158,656 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
 

Edition Details:

• Standard Definition and High Definition presentations of Equinox Flower and There Was a Father (DVD & Blu-ray)
• Fully illustrated booklet features newly commissioned sleevenote essays by Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns

 

Blu-ray Release Date: January 17th, 2011

Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 12

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: BFI Region 'B' Blu-ray January 11': Another Ozu masterpiece, There Was a Father is included in 1080P on the BFI Blu-ray along with his first color film, Equinox Flower. The package contains standard definition versions of both films as well on a separate DVD.

While the BFI is capitalizes on the full 1080P resolution, the pictureboxed Criterion - with a black border circumventing the frame - has further limited the resolution of the lesser SD format. The BFI Blu-ray transfer is adept and a definite improvement. It has the same damage marks and we can assume the print source is the best available. I don't believe much has been done in way of manipulation and it looks like a true rendering. It probably can't improve much more in appearance unless a full-blown restoration takes place (and I encourage this as this is one of Ozu's very best films).

Audio still has it's share of issues but the transfer is linear PCM lossless and again won't improve without some money spent of restoration. The optional subtitles represent a good translation. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked. Extras are limited to a fully illustrated booklet featuring newly commissioned sleevenote essays by Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns.

Although I had seen There Was a Father as recently as last year (for the Criterion review) I was still incredibly impacted by my viewing. I credit both the film and the new HD transfer. This is a film you want to see looking and sounding as good as possible. Well, now you can. Strongly recommended!

***

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 1- NTSC - June 2010: Criterion have released these two Ozu masterpieces (There Was a Father  and The Only Son) in digitally restored, superior, editions in a package obviously entitled - The Only Son / There Was a Father: Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu. Criterion have performed their magic with the occasionally severe damage lessened to a noticeable extent. Contrast has been manipulated for specific scenes (no blanketed) and even the hollow, tinny, audio (1.0 channel mono on the Criterions) seems much better. Most apparent is the improved subtitles (always a failing on Panorama DVDs) in the areas of grammar, spelling and absentee dialogue. The Criterions are dual layered (on separate discs) and progressive while the Panorama's are single-layered with combing present. The Panorama There Was a Father is notably horizontally stretched out of ratio. 

NOTE: Audio still has issues and, digitally speaking, can only be improved so much. I was resigned to live with the weaknesses on both Panorama editions but I could identify some improvement in the new Criterions. However, purchasers should not expect miracles. This is one area that extensive work is still required. Thankfully there is minimal dialogue and the newly rendered subtitles are excellent. 

From the tabled screen captures below you can see that the Criterion transfer is indeed pictureboxed - with a black border circumventing the frame - marginally limiting the resolution. For a detailed description of picture-boxing see our Kind Heart and Coronets review HERE. Overall the Criterion seems to show a shade more in the frame - but it is mostly negligible.

Supplements include newly recorded video interviews with film scholars David Bordwell, and Kristin Thompson (2 x 20 minutes for both features) and some time with Tadao Sato on The Only Son disc. What's super are the liner notes for each film - amounting to almost 50 pages in the two booklets featuring essays by critic and historian Tony Rayns, an appreciation of actor Chishu Ryu by Japanese film scholar Donald Richie, and comments by Ryu on director Yasujiro Ozu - as well as images from the films. Treasured keepsakes.

To get these any further along it appear both titles require restoration at the film level which could be a very expensive proposition. I won't complain about Criterion's level of commitment here. These represent two of my favorite films of all time, let alone the director, and while not pristine a/v - it was like a brand new viewing with the improved detail, grain, contrast and subtitles.

***

   

****

ON THE PANORAMA: Goodness!... the print this DVD transfer was taken from was in extremely poor shape. Strong damage marks can be scene at 10, 25, 35 and 40 minutes respectively. Heavy scratches and a strange 'firefly-like' haze encompasses the entire frame of many scenes. I suspect Panorama even debated about putting it out at all - they really should make a statement about it on the box.

It truly is a shame as this film is such a masterpiece. I will make enquiries to see if the retrospectives showed this in the same poor condition. If so, we may not see a restoration anytime soon - it would be a massive undertaking.

Also, commonly noted poor subtitles are at their peak of inefficiency here with lots of absentee spaces, poor translation choices ("How is the Boy? - "He passed-way" - "Good"- note: he didn't die - he passed his exams) and spelling. Audio is likewise weak and crackly. I suppose all of these problems didn't deter the empathetic transfer of the films emotions to me but I would really appreciate seeing "There Was a Father" in a superior image and audio (and subtitles) and really hope it can happen one day soon although I have heard of nothing on the horizon. This DVD gets out of     

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus

 

Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT


 

 

BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

Screen Captures

 

1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

DVD Box Cover

Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...     

 

Distribution Panorama (Hong Kong) - Region 3 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine # 526 - Region 1 - NTSC

BFI

Region 'B'  - Blu-ray





 

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Gary Tooze

Mississauga, Ontario,

   CANADA

Thank You!