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Template:Infobox Film Flower and Snake (花と蛇 - Hana to Hebi) (1974) is a Japanese soft-core S/M film starring Naomi Tani, directed by Masaru Konuma and produced by Nikkatsu. Based on a novel by Oniroku Dan (b. 1931), Japan's best-known author of S&M fiction, Flower and Snake was the first of Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno films to deal with an S&M theme. Together with the later Wife to be Sacrificed (also directed by Konuma in 1974, and starring the same female and male leads) this film is credited with starting the S&M Roman Porno series which helped save Nikkatsu from collapse during the 1970s.
In a very successful effort to avoid bankruptcy, Nikkatsu, Japan's oldest major film studio, had entered the pink film, or soft-core pornography, genre three years earlier, in 1971, with its popular and critically praised Roman Porno series. However 1974 was proving to be another difficult year for the studio, with no real box-office hits.
Since the late 1960s, Naomi Tani had been known as the "Queen of Pink," the most popular actress in the low-budget, independent "pink films" which dominated Japan's domestic cinematic market. Nikkatsu had been trying to recruit Tani into their Roman Porno series for years, but she had always refused since the studio had been reluctant to enter the S&M genre, which was Tani's specialty. Tani finally agreed to join the studio on the condition that her first film be based on the Oniroku Dan S&M novel Flower and Snake.
Nikkatsu agreed to Tani's conditions, but there remained the problem of convincing Oniroku Dan to allow the studio to film his novel. After lengthy, inconclusive negotiations, Dan invited director Masaru Konuma and scriptwriter Yozo Tanaka to his home for "further discussions." In the middle of the meeting, the electrical power suddenly went out, and Dan called for someone to light a candle. At this point, Naomi Tani, in traditional Japanese kimono, appeared in the room with a lantern. Konuma later said, "This was Dan's theatrical sense - his way of saying yes."
Director Konuma and script-writer Tanaka both agreed that Dan's novel was unfilmable, and made significant changes to the story. Dan and Naomi Tani both objected to this, and there was considerable friction between the two sides over the story during the writing of the script. Konuma later commented about Naomi Tani's role in this matter, "while we worked on the final script, she was very argumentative. However, I was impressed with her change in attitude after the company's final decision. During the shoot, she never gave us a problem. Instead- she was committed. I admire her professionalism."
After the film became a huge hit for Nikkatsu, the studio wanted to follow it with a sequel. Oniroku Dan remained bitter and did not agree to participate in the next film, Wife to be Sacrificed (1974), which became even a greater success. Dan did reconcile with the studio however, and continued to have a strong professional relationship with both Nikkatsu and Naomi Tani.
Shizuka (Naomi Tani), the aristocratic wife of the president of a large company. When she wants to divorce her domineering husband, he orders his employee Yoshi, the son of an adult toy store owner, to train his wife to become sexually submissive. Yoshi has been rendered impotent due to a childhood trauma resulting from his killing a black American soldier who had been having sexual relations with his mother. During the course of his training of the masochist Shizuka, Yoshi recovers from his affliction.
Critical appraisal Edit
Flower and Snake is considered important more from a historical standpoint than for its artistic merits. The later Wife to be Sacrificed is more highly-regarded by the critics. Oniroku Dan was not happy with the film, but was able to reconcile with Nikkatsu to continue making many more films from his novels, including Wife to be Sacrificed. Izumi Evers notes that "Nikkatsu's somewhat innocent approach inadvertently adds comedy," but sums up her review of Flower and Snake with, "The heroine, who was masochistically trained by men, was actually controlling them the whole time. To me, despite all the humiliations suffered by heroines like Naomi, this is the fundamental truth behind seventies-era Japanese sex films." The Weisser's call it "Well-made garbage," but add that it is one of the best of Nikkatsu's films in this genre.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Macias, Patrick. (2001). TokyoScope: The Japanese Cult Film Companion. (Review of Flower and Snake by Izumi Evers). Cadence Books, San Francisco. ISBN 1-56931-681-3, p.183.
- ↑ Sato, Tadao; Gregory Barrett (translator)  (1987). Currents in Japanese Cinema, paperback (in English), Tokyo: Kodansha, 244. ISBN 0-87011-815-3.
- ↑ Weisser, Thomas and Yuko Mihara Weisser. (1998.) Japanese Cinema Encyclopedia: The Sex Films. Vital Books : Asian Cult Cinema Publications. Miami. (ISBN 1-889288-52-7), p.506-507.
- ↑ Konuma, Masaru. (1998). Interviewed by Thomas and Yuko Mihara Weisser on November 6, 1998, in Asian Cult Cinema, #22, 1st Quarter, 1999. p.22
- ↑ Tani, Naomi. Interviewed by Hamamoto, Maki. (1998). "Naomi Tani - An Interview with Nikkatsu's Queen of SM" (Conducted in January 1998 in Kyushu, Japan) in Asian Cult Cinema Number 19, April 1998. p.41
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Konuma, p.22-23
- ↑ Weisser, p.356.
- ↑ Nikkatsu press release for Flower and Snake, quoted in Fentone, Steve (1998). "A Rip of the Flesh: The Japanese 'Pink Film' Cycle; Flowers and Serpents". She 2 (11): p.13.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Weisser, p.155.
- ↑ Hana to Hebi Plot Synopsis at All Movie Guide
- ↑ Flower and Snake '74 (1974) (English). Amazon.com. Retrieved on 2007-07-05.
- Flower and Snake (花と蛇) (French). pinku.cho-yaba.com. Retrieved on 2007-10-17.
- Macias, Patrick. (2001). TokyoScope: The Japanese Cult Film Companion. (Review of Flower and Snake by Izumi Evers). Cadence Books, San Francisco. ISBN 1-56931-681-3, p. 183.
- Weisser, Thomas and Yuko Mihara Weisser. (1998). Japanese Cinema Encyclopedia: The Sex Films. Vital Books : Asian Cult Cinema Publications. Miami. (ISBN 1889288527), p. 155.
- Hana to hebi at the Internet Movie Database
- 花と蛇 (Hana to Hebi) (Japanese). Japanese Movie Database. Retrieved on 2007-07-18.