In Shinshu, a small mountain village in central Japan, a silk spinner raises her son Ryosuke alone. A good student, this one is old enough to go to high school but the mother opposes it because the studies are too expensive. She nevertheless ends up accepting, choosing to sacrifice everything for the education of her son. Thirteen years later, Ryosuke has moved to Tokyo and his mother is visiting him for the first time. Despite her son's efforts to welcome her, she discovers that he lives in a precarious situation, disappointed by the promises of the big city...
Ozu's first talkie, The Only Begotten depicts with grim, if unfatalistic realism, the harsh social conditions of pre-war Japan. Both intimate and universal, the story unfolds over fifteen years to capture a pivotal time, marked by the divide between rural life and urban development. Through this tale of sacrifice and lost illusions, the filmmaker delivers a sensitive study of the mother-son relationship, "the drama of life" as announced in the opening card, but also a positive natural bond since the mother encourages the son to persevere. Unpublished in France, The Only Son heralds the master's most famous works (He Was a Father, Journey to Tokyo) and remains one of Yasujiro Ozu's most poignant social dramas.
ONLY SON (1936 – B&W – 83 mins) SUPPLEMENT *
. LE TIME CONTÉ: JEAN-JACQUES BEINEX ABOUT THE "ONLY SON" (22 mn) The director of Driva and 37°2 le matin has long had a close relationship with Japan and the cinema of Ozu. In an exclusive interview, he shares with us his view of The Only Son and his taste for the work of the Japanese master.