IMDb > Pale Flower (1964)

Pale Flower (1964) More at IMDbPro »Kawaita hana (original title)

Pale Flower -- In this cool, seductive jewel of the Japanese New Wave, a yakuza, fresh out of prison, becomes entangled with a beautiful and enigmatic gambling addict; what at first seems a redemptive relationship ends up leading him further down the criminal path.


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Shintarô Ishihara (based on the novel by)
Masaru Baba (screenplay) ...
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Release Date:
1 March 1964 (Japan) See more »
Muraki, a hardboiled Yakuza gangster, has just been released from prison after serving a sentence for murder... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
(2 articles)
Blu-Ray Review: Subtle Beauty of Somber ‘Pale Flower’
 (From 24 May 2011, 8:33 AM, PDT)

Ryo Ikebe, 1918 - 2010
 (From MUBI. 13 October 2010, 9:48 AM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Subverts the gangster genre at every turn See more (10 total) »


  (in credits order)

Directed by
Masahiro Shinoda 
Writing credits
Shintarô Ishihara (based on the novel by)

Masaru Baba (screenplay) &
Masahiro Shinoda (screenplay)

Produced by
Masayuki Nakajima .... assistant producer
Toshio Shimizu .... assistant producer
Masao Shirai .... producer
Shigeru Wakatsuki .... producer
Original Music by
Yûji Takahashi 
Tôru Takemitsu 
Cinematography by
Masao Kosugi 
Film Editing by
Yoshi Sugihara 
Art Direction by
Shigemasa Toda 
Set Decoration by
Hatsuo Kojima 
Makeup Department
Yoshiko Nawa .... hair stylist
Production Management
Hideo Kishida .... executive in charge of production
Masashi Ueno .... production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Ichirô Mizunuma .... first assistant director
Nariyuki Yamane .... assistant director
Gô Yoshida .... assistant director
Art Department
Saburo Abe .... assistant art director
Sound Department
Hideo Nishizaki .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Akira Aomatsu .... gaffer
Takao Kajihara .... still photographer
Noboru Shiiba .... lighting technician
Akio Shinozaki .... assistant camera
Atsuyuki Yagi .... lighting technician

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Kawaita hana" - Japan (original title)
See more »
96 min
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:


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Subverts the gangster genre at every turn, 7 February 2015
Author: tomgillespie2002 from United Kingdom

Masahiro Shinoda's Pale Flower, like many products of the Japanese New Wave movement, is an immaculate mixture of the old and the new. Having studied under Ozu, Shinoda frames the film beautifully, taking influence from American film noir and the French New Wave to tell a story of ageing mobster Muraki (Ryo Ikebe) who is fresh out of prison. However, this is no straight-forward yakuza movie, and the film's loose plot and broodingly charismatic anti-hero are used at every turn to subvert the genre.

Having served his time for murder and winning the respect of his peers for keeping his mouth shut, Muraki drifts back into the life he once knew. It's a world of excessive gambling, and it's whilst partaking in an unfathomable game involving black chips that he meets the mysterious Saeko (Mariko Kaga), a beautiful girl with an unhealthy thirst for excitement. He is told that she comes every night and loses all of her money, only to come back the next day for more. Muraki is instantly drawn to her, and the two embark on an equally destructive, but not physical, relationship.

With his sharp suits, handsome face, perfect hair and nigh-on permanent black sunglasses, Muraki is the epitome of New Wave cool. But Pale Flower is a more than just an exercise in style. Like Alain Delon's character in Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samourai, Muraki is a creature of violence stuck in an existential void. Loyal to his yakuza boss for seemingly no other reason than habit, he is constantly restless and bored. Saeko fiercely sparks his interest; as she embarks in a high speed car race with a man she's never met just for the thrill, Muraki watches her, hypnotised and confused.

Though we see her laugh orgasmically at the cheap thrills life can offer and talk about her desire to try heroin, there is little revealed about Saeko's inner thoughts and background. Muraki is drawn to her perhaps because she shares his disconnection with the structure of modern life, a common theme in the Japanese New Wave. Though the film is, for the most part, moody and intense, shrouded in shadows and cigarette smoke, Shinoda doesn't neglect to include some black humour. A running joke involving a severed fingers adds a nihilistic quality to the film, leading to a bleak ending that is powerfully fitting.

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