a seated woman in a shiny striped dress looks brightly out at the viewer against a backdrop of decorative narrow wooden beamsalr

Equinox Flower
(Higanbana)

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

A brisk and insightful comedy, Equinox Flower was the last film by Ozu to feature the great Tanaka Kinuyo, who brings unique elan to her role as Hirayama Kiyoko, subtly guiding her daughter’s attempt to forge her own path against Kiyoko’s rather obtuse husband, whose stubborn and openly hypocritical positions are subtly embodied by Saburi Shin—like Tanaka, an actor-turned-director who seemed to intuitively embody Ozu’s multi-layered characters and mise-en-scène. With Equinox Flower Ozu shifts his attention and even sympathies to the younger generation while offering a gentle critique of their elders. For his first color film, Ozu embraces a bold palette that favors variations of his favorite red and gives new energy and emphasis to the objects and costumes that the famously fastidious director helped select and design. A bright vermillion teapot thus appears frequently in the Hirayama home, each time in a slightly different place, like a musical note dancing across the shots to punctuate and humorously comment on the subtly shifting roles between father, wife and daughter. – HG

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