Equinox Flower / There Was a Father DVD+Blu-ray
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Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
Produced in 1942; 1958
Main Language - Japanese with English subtitles
Chishu Ryu, Shin Saburi
Two from the acclaimed Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu, including the much loved family comedy Equinox Flower and wartime drama There Was a Father; David Parkinson delights in these classics.
The BFI is currently on a roll with its DVD releases, but nothing surpasses its Yasujiro Ozu collection. Some critics have bemoaned his 'unreasonable' style. But, as Wim Wenders rightly stated, Ozu is 'cinema's sacred treasure'.
Almost minimalist in style, Ozu's studies of the routines and familial relationships of the Japanese lower middle-class were notable for their unique approach to diegetic and temporal logic. Often decentring narrative events by means of ellipsis, Ozu relied on depth of characterisation and strong dialogue to sustain the action, which was invariably recorded from a low angle (approximating the eyeline of somebody sat on a tatami mat) in long takes with a static camera. Moreover, he also made inspired use of on- and off-screen space to capture the filmic world and create Zen-like poetic digressions.
Filmed in accordance with wartime strictures, There Was a Father (1942) remains among Ozu's most unusual pictures, with its broad narrative span and diversity of setting standing in contrast to his more typically intense insularity. Its essential themes are patriarchy and patriotism. But the story of widowed Chishû Ryû's self-sacrificing devotion to son Shûji Sano also contains an element of Buddhist passivity, as each endures the pain of separation to make the best of their limited opportunities. Making symbolic use of train journeys and fishing trips, Ozu brings a human touch to the-then prescribed topic of tradition.
For all but three years of his career, Ozu worked in monochrome. But he finally turned to colour for Equinox Flower (1958), whose parallel plotlines make it one of his most playful pictures. Exposing the ironic duality of the subservient salaryman who insists on being master in his own household, Ozu uses this two-act satire to espouse the emancipation of women and the emergence of youth. As the father dumbfounded by his daughter's decision to refuse an arranged liaison and marry for love, Shin Saburi gives a fine display of stubborn impotence in the face of the quiet determination of both headstrong Ineko Arima and his prudent wife, Kinuyo Tanaka.
David Parkinson on 3rd December 2010
Author of 193 reviews
A pairing of films from Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu - Equinox Flower (1958) and There Was a Father (1942).
Yasujiro Ozu’s first colour film, Equinox Flower is a deft comedy that takes an ironic look at the decline of paternal authority. Shin Saburi plays Wataru Hirayama, an old-fashioned father whose outwardly liberal views on marriage are severely tested when his daughter tells him she wants a love-match. Outwitted and outflanked by his wily female relatives Hirayama stubbornly refuses to admit defeat. The director’s playful use of colour, poetry and arch humour combine to make this tale of old versus new at once deeply moving and razor-sharp.
Paternal authority is unquestionably ascendant in Ozu’s powerful war-time drama There Was a Father which is included here. Shuhei Horikawa (Chishy Ryu) sacrifices his teaching career after an unfortunate accident but refuses to sacrifice the education of his only son.
Length: 212 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Format: DVD+Blu-ray Colour
Released: 17th January 2011
Cat No: BFIB1071
- 2 discs
- Standard Definition and High Definition presentations of Equinox Flower and There Was a Father
- Fully illustrated booklet with newly commissioned essays by Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns
- New and improved English subtitles.