Otôto (1960)

a.k.a Brother

Set in 1926 when Japanese tradition was much stronger, this drama looks at the inner workings of a small family, especially the relationship between a sister and brother.


Kon Ichikawa's Her Brother (or Younger Brother) is an extremely well-shot family drama set in 1920s Japan, and therefore examining the mores of the time/place, but I feel it resonates beyond its setting. Of the two siblings at the center of the story, the brother is favored by the father and can do no wrong, while the older daughter is expected to be good, help around the house, and endure various indignities. Though notionally old-fashioned, these are familiar family dynamics regardless of gender. The stepmother is a particularly interesting character, having brought ardent Christianity in the home and yet too easily rejecting her husband's children for their failings, especially the teenage boy's propensity for delinquency. The daughter is thus the stronger maternal figure in the story, but one that is undervalued by the rest of the family. Like many post-war Japanese films up through the early 60s, it's about examining one's place in the family or society as traditions start to change. In that context, the final scene is devastating.

a year ago


Not bad, but I think it's my least favorite among master Ichikawa Kons movies so far.

6 years ago

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