I find it incredibly hard to write about my favorite films, directors and actors. When I really love a film as much as I love Masahiro Shinoda’s Pale Flower (1964), I tend to gush or the words just stumble around in my head and refuse to form into coherent sentences. I’ve been eager to write about Pale Flower for years but nothing came of my enthusiasm until this week when I managed to compile some of my thoughts about Pale Flower for the Movie Morlocks. Criterion recently released Pale Flower on DVD (Full disclosure – I haven’t seen the new Criterion disc but I own the original DVD from Image Entertainment) so it prompted me to watch the film again and it is an incredible piece of filmmaking that never fails to impress me. I first mentioned Shinoda’s film here back in 2007 when I was asked to compile a list of some of my favorite foreign language films. I only wrote a small blurb about Pale Flower then so I’m glad that I was finally able to share some more detailed thoughts about the film. Here’s a brief excerpt:
“Masahiro Shinoda’s PALE FLOWER (1964) opens with this telling monologue recited by the handsome Japanese actor Ryo Ikebe. In the film Ikebe plays an aging Yakuza mobster called Muraki who has just been released from prison after serving a three-year sentence for killing another gang member. Instead of being overjoyed by his newfound freedom, Muraki expresses his despair as well as the disappointment that many of his fellow countrymen were feeling at the same time. Post-war Japan was in constant upheaval and the country was undergoing major changes under American occupation. There was a lot of confusion, anger and resentment towards the powers that be at home and abroad. People’s uneasiness and aggravation often found an outlet in many of the Japanese films made during the 1960s. Although the Japanese New Wave isn’t as familiar to western audiences as its French counterpart, PALE FLOWER is one of the finest examples of this extraordinary period in Japan’s cinematic history.”
You can read the rest of my piece on Pale Flower by following the link below.