Equinox Flower (1958)

Equinox Flower (Higanbana)equinox flower poster
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
Written by Yasujiro Ozu and Kogo Noda from an original story by Ton Satomi
1958/Japan
Shochiku Eiga
Repeat viewing/Hulu

 

“It was against all scientific reason for two people who hardly knew each other, with no ties at all between them, with different characters, different upbringings, and even different genders, to suddenly find themselves committed to living together, to sleeping in the same bed, to sharing two destinies that perhaps were fated to go in opposite directions.” ― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

Here is an Ozu film in which the father does not want his daughter to marry – at least not  the man she has chosen.  It goes without saying that it is a slow burn that moved me to tears but I laughed more than usual as well.

Mr. Hirayama is a successful business man who likes to give relationship advice.  He had a traditional arranged marriage to a traditional and subservient wife (Kinuyo Tanaka).  He proclaims that he envies modern love matches.  But when his daughter’s boyfriend shows up and asks to marry her, he is adamantly opposed.

equinox 1

Hirayama is so upset that he orders his wife to lock up his daughter.  This works about as well as might be expected.

Equinox Flower 10

My husband and I watched this together and our verdict was “almost great”.  Its only fault might be the slow pace but that just gives one the time to appreciate the composition and Ozu’s palette in his first color film.  It’s fun spotting the pop of red in almost every frame.

This film is full of gentle humor.  The part where Hirayama’s subordinate tries to keep his boss from finding out he is a regular at a bar the two stop at made me laugh out loud.  The story builds to Ozu’s usual moving and satisfying conclusion.  Highly recommended.

Clip (click the cc icon if you don’t see the subtitles)

TCM Intro

4 thoughts on “Equinox Flower (1958)

  1. Ozu’s great! I love the way you sit there for more than two hours and almost nothing happens, it’s like watching your neighbors cook dinner, go to work and have a disagreement about the daughter’s boyfriend. But it’s fascinating.

    My favorite is Good Morning. I know some people who like Kurosawa and Studio Ghibli and things like Godzilla or The Audition, who just won’t watch Ozu.

    “What’s it about?”
    “Two little boys who want a television.”
    “Uh, I’ll think about it.”

    I wish Ozu had made just one samurai movie. Two and a half hours of several samurai drinking tea, eating rice, sitting in a saki joint, arguing with their mistresses and making jokes about the Shogun.

      • After I posted last night, I thought of the Ozu samurai movie as a Woody Allen project. Allen has made some very good homage films to Fellini and Bergman and Hitchcock and so on, but he’s never done any of the Japanese directors like Ozu or Kurosawa (unless it was too subtle and I missed it). He should film it in Japan in black and white and have a title like Katana Afternoon or Really Early Winer.

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