Pale Flower

Pale Flower

5.0 4
Director: Masahiro Shinoda, Ryo Ikebe, Mariko Kaga, Takashi Fujiki

Cast: Masahiro Shinoda, Ryo Ikebe, Mariko Kaga, Takashi Fujiki

     
 

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Masahiro Shinoda's brilliant film opens with mobster Murakami just getting released from prison for murdering a member of a rival clan, only to learn that during his internment, the two syndicates arranged a truce. Not unlike the protagonist in Albert Camus' The Stranger, Murakami's motives for killing were vague and that life holds little value for him. At an

Overview

Masahiro Shinoda's brilliant film opens with mobster Murakami just getting released from prison for murdering a member of a rival clan, only to learn that during his internment, the two syndicates arranged a truce. Not unlike the protagonist in Albert Camus' The Stranger, Murakami's motives for killing were vague and that life holds little value for him. At an illegal gambling parlor, he finds himself drawn to a mysterious waif-like young woman named Saeko (Mariko Kaga) who lives life from one thrill to the next. Though she seems remarkably adept at losing large sums of money, she asks Murakami to find games with larger and larger stakes. Soon they become involved in an intense mutually destructive relationship. High stakes gambling and racing her little sports car eventually grow tiresome, and Saeko becomes attracted to drugs. Instead of dope, Murakami offers to let her watch him kill a rival clan leader, describing it as the ultimate thrill.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jonathan Crow
Often described by critics as one of the greatest yakuza films ever made, Masahiro Shinoda's Pale Flower combines a stunning visual style with the sort of aesthetic fatalism that recalls his masterpiece Double Suicide (1969). Yet it almost did not get released. Screenwriter Ataru Baba decried the final work as a "nihilistic film" and tried to get it shelved. The ensuing dispute resulted in Shochiku Studios' delaying distribution for nine months. Indeed, much of the studio heads' consternation resulted from Pale Flower's being such a bold reworking of firmly entrenched clichés of the yakuza genre. Though the protagonist is presented as an honorable warrior in a sea of intrigue and corruption, the film is imbued with an existential longing for the abyss. Murakami clearly recognizes that his final sacrifice for his clan is absurd but he goes through with it all the same. Set against the forbidding rationality of modern Yokohama, Shinoda's characters irrationally sacrifice themselves for beauty and aesthetic purity instead of more crass concerns like material gain. Stylistically, Shinoda subordinates plot for the film's murky, subterranean mood, aided by Masao Kosugi's sumptuous cinematography. During the opening scene at an illegal gambling parlor, Shinoda brilliantly sets up the dynamics between the film's various personalities with remarkable economy and little dialogue save the dealer's monotonous cant. Pale Flower is a bleak yet strikingly beautiful yakuza classic, made by one of the masters of the Japanese New Wave.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/17/2011
UPC:
0715515080811
Original Release:
1963
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Presentation:
[B&W, Wide Screen]
Time:
1:36:00
Sales rank:
8,695

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

New Video Interview with Director Masahiro Shinoda; Selected-Scene Audio Commentary by Film Scholar Peter Grilli, Coproducer of Music for the Movies: Toru Takemitsu; Original Theatrical Trailer; Plus: A Booklet Featuring an Essay by Film Critic Chuck Stephens

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Pale Flower 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
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