Visual communications

Pale Flower


Movie title: “Kawaita Hana” (Pale Flower) 1964
Director: Masahiro Shinoda
Starring: Mariko Kaga and Ryo Ikebe


Stefano Pallanti MD Ph. D.
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciencesat
The Stanford University Medical Center

Mutsumi Kono BA Ph. D.
Istituto di Neuroscienze
Firenze (FI)



S. Pallanti, M. Kono


The literal translation of the Japanese title Kawaita Hana is actually “Dry (or Dried) Flower”. Hana, the word for flower, can here refer to both the girl, Saeko, and to the gambling cards which are called hanafuda (flower cards).
Pale Flower is a contemporary yakuza (Japanese mafia-gang) film. It opens with yakuza Muraki’s release from the jail. He served his sentence after having killed an opponent yakuza. He has a regular woman, Shinko, but is attracted to the mysterious young woman Saeko, whom he recognizes as his soul mate, a fellow thrill-seeker bored with life. They share the thrill of high-stakes gambling and high-speed driving.
When the boss asks to his clan members who kills their opponent boss, Muraki proposes himself as a candidate even if he would be life sentenced after the second murder. It is not because he is devoted to his boss but because he is a true loner and an outsider.
Accompanied by Dido’s aria, “Remember Me”, from Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas, he goes to kill the designated man.
Muraki’s grand gesture, at the end, has changed nothing; he is back in jail and learns that Saeko is dead and the two old gang bosses are still in charge.
The impossibility to learn from his own error as a seal of the Gambler’s story.


Cite this article as

Pallanti, S. Kono, M. (2019). Pale Flower. Archives of Behavioral Addictions, 1(1). doi: 10.30435/ABA.01.2019.08