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Film / A Hen in the Wind

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A Hen in the Wind is a 1948 film by Yasujiro Ozu.

Tokiko is a 28-year-old woman living in Tokyo with a four-year-old son, Hiroshi. Her husband Shuichi is still a POW three years after the end of the war (this was not unheard of). Tokiko is desperately struggling to provide for herself and her son; as the film starts, she's trying to sell off her last kimono.

Disaster strikes when Hiroshi becomes seriously ill and requires hospitalization. Driven to desperation, Tokiko prostitutes herself for an evening. Naturally, her husband finally makes it home within days of this event, and naturally, he finds out.


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Tropes:

  • Cut Himself Shaving: After her tumble down the stairs caused by an angry Shuichi flailing at her, Tokiko tells the landlady that she slipped.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Shuichi, who just can't handle it after finding out his wife was briefly a hooker, gets drunk at a bar.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Shuichi can't deal with it when he finds out that his wife prostituted herself.
  • Hit Me, Dammit!: Rather than tell him to go to hell like she should, Tokiko begs Shuichi to hit her, beat her, do whatever he has to do to be able to forgive her.
  • Info Dump: The mailman comes to the house with a letter for the sole purpose of explaining to the audience that Tokiko has a husband who is a POW.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Mr. Fu, Tokiko's would-be customer at the whorehouse, is surprisingly candid about this. ("It doesn't work...my thing.")
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  • Signature Shot: The shot-reverse shot dialogue exchanges where characters address the camera directly, a hallmark of Ozu's post-war career.
  • Single Mom Stripper:
    • For only one night! And her john couldn't even get it up! Yet Tokiko still pays for this when her husband finds out.
    • Later, when Shuichi is trying to get through his issues, he talks to another hooker who is doing it to support her infirm father and her brother in school. Shuichi finds her a straight job at his company, leading his boss (Chishū Ryu, who was attached to Yasujiro Ozu with an umbilical cord) to wonder why Shuichi can understand this total stranger but can't understand his wife.
  • Staircase Tumble: Tokiko tries to embrace an angry, blustering Shuichi. He throws his arms out, pushing her away—and she falls down the stairs. Luckily for Shuichi she is OK, and they reconcile.
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