The father elsewhere. Commentary on the movie: “Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles”


The article offers the opportunity to consider the loss and recovery of the paternal function in a culture that is different from ours, as well as to reflect upon contrasting and similar aspects. As far as the latter are concerned, in the movie the paternal function meets the child’s need for a reference point outside of his relationship with his mother, someone who can understand and tolerate the negative feelings that build up at the moment of separation from her. The father appears in his new function if he manages to stay there without having a boomerang reaction. When this happens the child can then accept a group, after both the maternal and the paternal function have proved they are present. We cannot but agree, even from our “western” viewpoint. However, the movie also describes the recovery of the Japanese father’s paternal function through a course in which the father starts over from point zero, where he symbolically goes back to being like a child. Thus, he goes through the various stages of development that enable him to understand his son’s sufferings, from which he had previously run away, therefore losing contact with him. This is an unusual way of finding oneself, one’s son and the possibility of a relationship, even beyond death.

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