Equinox Flower

1958

Comedy / Drama

182
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 88%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 87%
IMDb Rating 7.9 10 3,250

Synopsis


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May 28, 2020

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1.05 GB
1280*720
Japanese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
118 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.96 GB
1920×1080
Japanese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
118 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by martin-f 8 / 10 / 10

Ozu at the top his game

Is there a director in the history of cinema with a more distinct style than Yasujiro Ozu? 1958's Equinox Flower was Ozu's first colour film and concerns itself with one of his favourite themes – the family and it's discontents. The film is set during a time when arranged marriages were being challenged in Japan and it pits the emerging youth of the country, full of post war freedom and optimism, against their traditional parents who are finding it difficult to let go of their customs and ultimately their children. A Tokyo businessman, Waturu Hirayama, is continually approached by friends for advice, friends who have become powerless as parents and are struggling to impose their will on their daughters. Hirayama's apparent disappointment and resignation regarding his own arranged marriage informs his advice throughout. Consequently he is often conciliatory and impartial, trying his best to get both sides to see each other's point of view. Neither traditional nor modern in his outlook, instead he takes a humanist approach and strives for harmony amongst the protagonists. However, when a young man he has never met before enters his office and asks him for his own daughter's hand in marriage he finds it difficult to adopt this approach for himself and his family. On the one hand, he is initially hurt by the apparent lack of respect and involvement that he feels he should have been afforded by the young couple. He questions his role as a father and feels castrated by this power being taken out of hands. On the other hand, though, he suffers a sense of loss. He has nothing personal against the young man, and after making enquiries, is assured of his good nature. Nevertheless, rather than gaining a son, he's acutely aware that he is losing a daughter and, with that, some of his own identity. Not only losing her in marriage but also to a new way of life, a new culture where Hirayama is unsure of his role. In a broader sense, Equinox Flower, also offers an insight into the fast socio-cultural changes in post-war Japan as it becomes more influenced by capitalism and Western culture. Throughout the film, Hirayama alludes to the fact that his business and his workload are becoming increasingly busier. Scenes are often interspersed with images of industrial development and progress mixed with more traditional scenes of mountain ranges, the countryside and churches. It's also worth noting that, throughout the film, it is largely the women that are seen as the advocates of change, trying to find greater equality in a patriarchal society. The men, in comparison, are seen as passive and confused. Japan itself, like Hirayama, is going through a struggle, a process of change that tries to balance the traditional against the modern. Stylistically, Ozu's cinema is remarkable for those willing to give it a chance. All his trademarks are here – zero camera movement, single character shots and evocative editing techniques. His unwillingness to ever let the camera move allows him to frame scenes as if they were photographs or paintings where the characters then suddenly come to life. His use of colour, here for the first time, is accomplished to say the least. Combine that with some wonderful sets and scenery and at times you could be forgiven for thinking you're watching an old MGM musical. Most remarkable of all, though, are Ozu's trademark tatami-level shots. Using a special camera dolly to simulate the three foot height of the average person kneeling or sitting on a tatami pad, Ozu creates a way of seeing the world that is specifically Japanese, specifically Ozu. The style is so unique and effective that it's difficult to imagine films being directed any other way. Buy the box sets, ration yourself to one film a year and you're in for a rare treat.

Reviewed by ilpohirvonen 8 / 10 / 10

A Tender Comedy of the Mundane

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.

Reviewed by sharptongue 8 / 10 / 10

Stilted but excellent

This is the first Ozu film I've seen, though I did see a film about him many years ago. Therefore, I am aware of Ozu's liking for a particular and eccentric camera angle, and his apparent preference for an acting style which is, depending on your point of view, understated, stilted or highly restricted. Ozu appears to like portraying what is perhaps the reality of a culture which values conformity. Take a tip - adjust quickly to the apparently straightjacketed acting. This is an excellent cast, whose talent shines through even Ozu's iron hand. And it makes the humour even more effective. I was astonished at just how much I, and the rest of the audience, laughed out loud at a few of the scenes. I find it difficult to simply convey why it works. Suffice to say Ozu is clearly a master of the slow buildup. There's a scene where the father takes one of his employees to a bar, to meet a girl who is the daughter of one of his friends. The girl has run away and cut off contact with her dad. The central character tries to get her to at least talk it over. The humour of this scene revolves around the acute embarrasment the junior employee feels, as a regular patron. Ozu milks this scene for every last laugh with a master's touch. Sounds dull as I've written it, right ? Well, on screen, it's a killer. After this film, I'll look forward much more to my next Ozu.

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