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Equinox Flower (1958)

Higanbana (original title)
A businessman clashes with his elder daughter over her choice of a husband.

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(original story), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Wataru Hirayama
...
Kiyoko Hirayama
...
Setsuko Hirayama
...
Fumiko Mikami
Keiji Sada ...
Masahiko Taniguchi
Teiji Takahashi ...
Shotaru Kondo
Miyuki Kuwano ...
Hisako Hirayama
...
Shukichi Mikami
Chieko Naniwa ...
Hatsu Sasaki
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Yôko Chimura ...
Nurse
Ureo Egawa ...
Schoolmate Nakanishi
Gazan Hasegawa
Aiko Ikumi ...
Inn maid
Kentarô Imai ...
Station attendant
Masahiko Inoue ...
Station attendant
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Storyline

A business man is often approached by friends for advice and help regarding marriage as well as family and romantic relationships. He is always very calmly and objectively able to give great insight and assistance to these particular situations. However, when it comes time for him to be objective regarding his oldest daughter, he finds it very difficult... Written by Karl Engel <cassiel@ix.netcom.com>

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Comedy | Drama

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Release Date:

June 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Flor do Equinócio  »

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(Agfacolor)
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Trivia

This was Yasujirô Ozu's first film in color. See more »

Connections

Referenced in I Lived, But... (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Tender Comedy of the Mundane
27 July 2013 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

The emptiness of the space in the very first images of "Equinox Flower" makes an impact on the viewer. An opening of this sort resembles those of Ozu's most famous films such as "Late Spring" and "Tokyo Story". However, soon we find out that "Equinox Flower" differs quite remarkably from these since it is essentially a comedy. In the first scene of the film Ozu instantly introduces the marriage motif -- a recurring subject in his oeuvre -- as two railroad workers are wondering the great amount of newly-weds. Only few artists have been able to establish a theme and set a tone, which are fully consistent with the rest of the work, so quickly yet still with such restraint and precision. Therefore, it is certain to the viewer from the start that what unfolds is the craft of a master.

At its heart, "Equinox Flower" is a tender comedy because it fluently combines two aspects, which too often appear as contradictory, the ironic and the melancholic. Striking is also the fact that the film is Ozu's first comedy in approximately two decades. One must go back to the silent days to find a benchmark. This choice of return seems to coincide with Ozu's new sympathy (though I use the word hesitantly) for the younger generation, whereas he so often has sympathized the elders. It seems to me that in "Equinox Flower" the lightness and hopeful attitude towards life, noticeable in Ozu's earlier films, merges with the Chekhovian wisdom and elegiac tone of his later oeuvre.

To an extent, "Equinox Flower" is a satirical treatise on the decline of parental and especially patriarchal authority in the Japanese family and society. However, Ozu is never hostile nor aggressive. He doesn't point out. He reveals. Although there are moments when Ozu lets us laugh at the protagonist's helplessness when trapped by his own outdated norms, Ozu never attacks on him. In addition to theme, Ozu's return to comedy also marked a turning point in his visual development because he used color for the first time, which later on became an inseparable element in his subsequent films. As a consequence, the world of colors in "Equinox Flower" is strikingly rich and precisely considered, leaving the viewer with several memorable and widely associative visual motifs.

"Equinox Flower" is in many ways what one might call a simple film. There's not much of a story going on, let alone action of any kind, nor surprising twists in plot. Nonetheless, the viewer (any viewer whether an admirer of Ozu or not) is left with a powerful impact by the rich simplicity of the visuals; and the utter beauty of details. Above all, "Equinox Flower" is purely based on Ozu's unique poetry of the mundane; a vital principle in his cinema.

Due to this simplicity, many western viewers have blamed, or at least explained their discontent, Ozu's films for a slow pace, but this criticism, however, doesn't really hit the mark because Ozu's films precisely create their own time in the poetic universe which differs from our world. In this rhythm or, in fact, Ozu's perception of time lies profound melancholy. The days go by, the clothes line dances in the wind, and emptiness prevails. In "Equinox Flower" the older generation remembers the war-time days, recalling especially its better times of carefree coexistence. In turn, such ideals as personal happiness and privacy threatened by the old, arranged, communal joy throb beneath the youth's dialogue. Ozu's characters are often aware of this melancholy -- human transience in the passage of time -- which brings sadness to their existence. A sensation that the old is about to vanish is always present, though so is the characters' ability to accept things as they are. As time is such an important theme for Ozu, his films can never be summed up with mere concepts such as "comedy" or "tragedy" since their (aesthetic) perspective is never restricted, but always reach to the most profound perspective of all, which is that of philosophy.


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