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Equinox Flower
(Higanbana)

Screening on Film
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu.
With Shin Saburi, Kinuyo Tanaka, Ineko Arima.
Japan, 1958, 35mm, color, 118 min.
Japanese with English subtitles.
Print source: Janus Films

The seventh and final film that Tanaka made with Ozu counts among the finest of his late period. Ozu’s first film made in color, Equinox Flower is both a delicate elegy and a delectable comedy—the portrait of a domestic tyrant at odds with his liberated daughter, who shuns the idea of arranged marriage. To subtle comic effect, Tanaka plays the wiser wife of Shin Saburi’s stubborn husband, reluctant to let his only daughter choose her own husband. A succession of quietly implosive epiphanies, Equinox Flower combines the director’s signature visual precision with color coding (with special use of Ozu’s favorite, red, playfully punctuated by a recurrent teapot) that underscores key elements of the environment. As the father is slowly won over, he sums up the director’s own sense of life’s capriciousness: “Everyone is inconsistent now and then, except God. Life is full of inconsistencies. The sum total of all the inconsistencies of life is life itself.”

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