(1958) Equinox Flower
Ozu’s first color film. Beautiful. Another one of Ozu’s ‘marriage’ pictures, but this one is really more about the father than anything. For me, this film is fuller than the other Ozu pictures that I have seen, perhaps because of the smaller canvas than some of his previous films, even great films like “Late Spring”, but I feel there is more attention to all of the people from all walks of life. We see the janitor mopping the hallway, and I wonder who is he marrying? What about the men at the train-station in the beggining? Its funny watching Kondo act so nervous when he go’s out with his boss. Everything in this film is so true to life, and universal. When an innkeeper and friend of the family visits the Hirayama’s house and has to go to the bathroom, she notices a broom leaning against the wall in the hallway, and puts it back in its place. Its sounds silly, but its the little things that happen in Ozu’s films that set them apart.
The story itself, is one of Ozu’s better plots, and full of playful coniving, and a battle between youth and parental authority, and a woman’s right to choose who she marries, and being forced to do so more or less in secret. Setsuko’s father lets tells her that its ok to have boyfriends, but when she decides that she wants to marry a boyfriend, he is automatically opposed. Her mother will call the father on his inconsistencies, but it only makes him more angry. It will take time before he realises that he was wrong, and that Setsuko’s judgement was as good as he had raised her and she was capable of being responsible for her choices, and she was able at making good decisions. All of the characters have more than one side to them, and all of them grow. Hirayama gathers with some classmates at a reunion, and though they grow old, they recognise that in their children, they carry their dreams of youth with them forever.
One of the reasons that I liked this film so much is because of the different levels that it works on. ITs about the changing ideas of parental authority and young people’s rights to choose whom they should marry. Its also about marriage between the classes, as well as marrying for love. And the film has other subtext’s as well. Kiyoko is one of the strongest wives in all of Ozu(without being dominating like the wife in “Flavor of Green Tea over Rice”), while not disrepectful, she stands up to Hirayama in showing him when he is wrong. Ozu gives us so much here, and the ending, in some ways resolved, almost like Shakespeare, inderectly, though, but a happy ending-which is a little out of the norm for Ozu who usually has the more contemplative endings. Sometimes its good to have a happy ending every once in a while, just as sometimes in life, there are happy endings.