An evolution of the father complex

Departeures, 2008 - the hometown
Departures, 2008 - the hometown

Here some excerpts from my article published on

A complex is "a set of representations, thoughts, memories, partly or totally unconscious, with a strong emotional charge” (Galimberti, 1992), which limits the freedom of the ego. A kind of black hole that absorbs energy. The film Departures (Okuribito in Japanese) by Yojiro Takita, 2008 Oscar for best foreign film,

is a fine example of how it can evolve the father complex. I’m citing excerpts from the film, selected and arranged by theme.


Daigo, the protagonist, plays cello in an orchestra in Tokyo. The orchestra is disbanded and he is forced to rethink the choices of his life. He decides to stop playing and to move to his home town to the house inherited from his mother who died two years ago.

The wound

“My mother raised me completely alone,” says Daigo. “My father is nothing but a worm. He ran a small cafe but then fled with the maid and disappeared, an absent father.” And when someone asks him, “who knows what is he doing now?” he says, “He’s probably already been dead for a long time.” “Would you meet him again?” His wife asks him; “I would beat him” responds Daigo.


Daigo talks about his wound. His comments on his father are full of anger.


The lady in the public bathroom confides to Daigo’s wife: “When his parents split up, he had never cried in front of his mother, never, not even once. But when he came here and he was alone in the men’s room, crying, I could see his bony shoulders shaking”. Pain lived alone, not shared, that has dug deep and encysted somewhere. A wound fed over the years not only by the loss of his father but also by his mother’s pain.


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