Traces the history of ikebana, flower arranging: its origins, its formalization 500 years ago, the emergence of the rikka or standing flower style with its heaven-earth-man trinity, and the influence of Rikyu’s simplicity. Enter the modern era, embodied at the Sogetsu School, where flower arranging is taught alongside modern sculpture and pottery. We visit a weekend class of flower arranging with novice and experienced students evaluated by a master, Sofu Teshigahara, the director’s father. Then we watch the master prepare for his annual one-man show. If life is an unceasing spiritual journey, says the narrator, then art gives us the courage to go on.
User Reviews: Japanese director Hiroshi Teshigahara (‘Woman in the Dunes’, ‘The Face of Another’, ‘Rikyu’) was the son of Sofu Teshigahara, the founder of the Sōgetsu School of Ikebana flower arranging. Sofu, who learned flower arranging from his father, regarded Ikebana as an art (as opposed to mere decoration) and his Sogetsu School taught "that once all the rules are learned and the techniques mastered, there is an unbounded field for freer personal expression using varied materials, not just flowers." (Thank you, Wikipedia.)
The film focuses on the way Sofu incorporates the sculptures he makes with his flower arrangements. It never occurred to me that these two art forms would be applied by the same person, but it only makes sense. In his case, the resulting combination has a powerful, very graphic and masculine, 50s-style aesthetic. It’s an interesting mix of traditional Japanese and Modernist (one could say Western, I suppose) flavors. He’s an eclectic sculptor, as he uses many different materials, including wood, metal and glass. It’s quite impressive. Sofu comes across as an intense man. He wears funky clothes and much of his work is charged with a particularly expressive, even neurotic energy. It’s not hard to imagine that he must have had a big influence on his filmmaker son.
The documentary itself feels conventional in comparison to the director’s more experimental, slightly psychedelic works from the 60s, or even his 1985 documentary about Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. This actually reminds me a bit of some Disney films from the 40s and 50s. At only 32 minutes, it doesn’t go into depth on specific Ikebana techniques or anything of the sort, but it offers a nice taste of the possibilities and points to the passion with which Sofu approached art.