Ornamental Hairpin


35mm Archival Print


Chishu Ryu, Kinuyo Tanaka, Hiroko Kawasaki, Tatsuo Saitō,

Yasujiro Ozu regular Chishu Ryu and legendary actress/director Kinuyo Tanaka star in Hiroshi Shimizu’s elegiac tale of two strangers brought together by fate at a mountain onsen resort. Some visitors come and go at this riverside inn, but others remain, such as a family with two boys, a grumpy professor, and a soldier (Ryu) who has injured himself after stepping on a hairpin lost by a woman (Tanaka) who then helps care for him. Just beyond, Japan wages war, but here our hero and heroine remain in a semipermanent retreat from militarism or the demands of “alcohol, cigarettes, make-up.” Comic, mournful, and romantic in turns, and boasting some of Shimizu’s most evocative and expressive location shooting, Ornamental Hairpin was condemned at the time for its pointedly un-militaristic theme. (“Film stock is so precious these days,” complained critic Akira Shimizu, “yet Hiroshi Shimizu comes up with such la-di-da stuff.”) “It is less an escapist film,” noted Alexander Jacoby, “than a film about the need to escape.” 

Jason Sanders
  • Kihan Nagase
Based On
  • a story by Masuji Ibuse
  • Suketaro Inokai
  • Japanese
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • B&W
  • 35mm
  • 71 mins
  • National Film Archive Japan
  • Janus Films

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