Jidaigeki

Jidaigeki (時代劇) are, for the purposes of this list, period Japanese movies and TV, ranging from the stately samurai films to the wilder exploitation movies. As well as samurai, we have the ronin, ninja, yakuza and just simple folk. Most are relatively straightly-told tales of swordplay, but some do head off in fantastical directions.

Inclusion criteria: Really anything set before the 20th Century, although I am prepared to be flexible if it is more rural and involves swordplay but occurs in the early 20th Century. I have also included some non-Japanese films that are set in the period and include samurai (or similar).

Recurring themes: Historical stories and characters that we often see cropping up include: Miyamoto Musashi, The 47 Ronin (Chushingura), Jubei Yagyu and Shimizu no Jirocho.

Further reading: Patrick Galloway has released 2 books where he reviews 50 samurai films and gives profiles of the key directors and actors (but doesn't add much analysis or context, however, it is written in a nicely accessible way): Stray Dogs & Lone Wolves: The Samurai Film Handbook (2005) and Warring Clans, Flashing Blades: A Samurai Film Companion (2009); there is also: The Samurai Film (2007) by Alain Silver and Samurai Films (2008) by Roland Thorne. I haven't yet read Thorne's book but Silver's was exactly the kind of book I was looking for with an in-depth analysis of key directors, themes and characters, plus it includes a detailed filmography broken down by director or character/series or year - if you are looking to take your appreciation of jidaigeki onto a new level then that is the book for you.

Links[/link: 50 Classic Samurai (Chambara, Jidaigeki) Films, a solid list, Jidai Geki at TV Tropes.

[b]See also
: Yakuza and ninja films, which often have a period setting.

Availability: A number of companies have done a lot of hard work finding these films and giving them high quality home media releases: Criterion, AnimEigo, Eureka and the BFI. There are obvious problems with pre-1945 films from Japan but we still have some films from that period.

Comments: As I don't have a Facebook account I cannot interact with the new comments system, so have switched it off. I will start a thread on the message board and link it in here shortly.
View:
Log in to copy items to your own lists.
1.
Samurai: The Last Warrior (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
International Samurai expert, Dr. Stephen Turnbull, provides historical insights into these legendary warriors in this documentary program described as "powerful and intriguing" by the Los Angeles Times. (67 mins.)
Director: Charlie Shepard
“ Here to provide the thumbnail graphic, the list starts below: ” - Mighty_Emperor
 
2.
Honnô-ji gassen (1908 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Director: Shôzô Makino
“ aka Battle at Honnoji Temple

Shōzō Makino pretty much created the Japanese period film genre and his son Masahiro would follow in is footsteps. They both produced a lot of jidaigeki but problems with availability and information (at least for me) make it difficult to work out which of the hundreds of them belong here, but I've managed to get a few on here (and will be doing more homework on this) and you can see their profiles here for more extensive lists.

This features Oda Nobunaga the man that unified Japan under the Shogunate in the 16th Century, so he is a popular character in jidaigeki.

All of the above means it is a fitting first film for the list. ” - Mighty_Emperor
 
3.
Shimizu no Jirochô (1911 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Director: Shôzô Makino
“ Shimizu no Jirocho was a bit of a rogue and his story has inspired hundreds of films. ” - Mighty_Emperor
 
4.
Miyamoto Musashi (1914 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Director: Shôzô Makino
 
5.
Jiraiya (1914 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Director: Shôzô Makino
 
6.
Kôchiyama Sôshun (1914 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Director: Shôzô Makino
 
8.
Kôchiyama Sôshun (1916)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Director: Jirô Yoshino
 
10.
Miyamoto Musashi (1918)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
 
11.
Jiraiya Goketsu tan (1918)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
 
13.
Miyamoto Musashi (1921)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
 
14.
Gôketsu Jiraiya (1921 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
(21 mins.)
Director: Shôzô Makino
“ Jiraiya is a ninja with supernatural powers, which include disappearing and turning himself into a frog. This means the film is odder than other period films of the time but the lack of translated intertitles makes it a bit tricky to follow the story.

Public domain, get from the Internet Archive ” - Mighty_Emperor
 
15.
Nao-zamurai (1922)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Director: Jirô Yoshino
 
17.
Orochi (1925)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
The story of a decent samurai who is widely considered a scum and a criminal. His bad luck and numerous misunderstandings drag him down the social ladder straight to the gutter. (74 mins.)
“ aka Serpent ” - Mighty_Emperor
 
18.
“ aka Dance of the Falling Petals: Part 1 ” - Mighty_Emperor
 
20.
Araki Mataemon (1925)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
(157 mins.)
Director: Tomiyasu Ikeda
 
22.
Chûshingura (1926)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Earliest surviving feature film depicting legend of the 47 ronin (see Mizoguchi, Inagaki, Ichikawa, and others) (76 mins.)
Director: Shôzô Makino
 
29.
Rônin-gai - Dai-ni-wa: Gakuya-buro - Dai-ippen (1929)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A representative film directed by Masahiro Makino, son of Shozo Makino ("the father of Japanese film")...
Director: Masahiro Makino
 
33.
 
34.
Oatsurae Jirôkichi koshi (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
The only completely preserved silent film directed by Daisuke Ito, this film relates the life of a legendary thief... (80 mins.)
Director: Daisuke Itô
 
37.
Chûshingura (1932)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
(139 mins.)
 
38.
A Story of Floating Weeds (1934)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A kabuki actor's mistress hatches a jealous plot to bring down her lover's son. (86 mins.)
Director: Yasujirô Ozu
“ Released on DVD by Criterion with the remake, Floating Weeds. ” - Mighty_Emperor
 
39.
Musashi Miyamoto zoku (1934)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
 
41.
Sazen Tange and the Pot Worth a Million Ryo (1935)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A man gets rid of a cheap pot without knowing it contains a map to a treasure. As word spreads, many join in hunting it. (92 mins.)
Director: Sadao Yamanaka
 
45.
Akanishi Kakita (1936)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
(77 mins.)
Director: Mansaku Itami
 
47.
Shijû-hachi-nin me (1936)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
(91 mins.)
Director: Daisuke Itô
 
48.
Humanity and Paper Balloons (1937)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The lives of two slum neighbors, one of a happy-go-lucky gambler and the other of a poor ronin, converge when the two get involved with the affairs of a powerful samurai official and his gangsters. (86 mins.)
Director: Sadao Yamanaka
 
49.
Miyamoto Musashi chi no maki (1937)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
 
52.
Jiraiya (1937)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
(56 mins.)
Director: Masahiro Makino
 
53.
Chûshingura - Ten no maki (1938)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Director: Masahiro Makino
 
56.
Oshidori utagassen (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Oharu is in love with ronin who lives next door, but he is being pursued by two of the town beauties... (69 mins.)
Director: Masahiro Makino
 
57.
Chûshingura: Zenpen (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Lord Asano rejects a bribe solicitation from Lord Kita and in so doing strikes Kita, a serious breach of feudal law... (79 mins.)
 
58.
Chûshingura: Kôhen (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Lord Asano has rejected a bribery solicitation by Lord Kira and in so doing, has struck Kira, a serious breach of feudal law... (89 mins.)
 
59.
Rônin fubuki (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
(89 mins.)
Director: Katsuhiko Kondo
 
60.
Nishikie edosugata hatamoto to machiyakko (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A cheerful period drama, sprinkled with comical scenes tells the story of a loyal and handsome Edo servant who fights to help his older brother marry the woman he loves. (65 mins.)
Director: Kazuo Mori
 
62.
Musashi Miyamoto bangaichi (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
 
65.
Oda Nobunaga (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
(91 mins.)
Director: Masahiro Makino
 
66.
The 47 Ronin (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
In 1701, Lord Takuminokami Asano has a feud with Lord Kira and he tries to kill Kira in the corridors of the Shogun's palace... (241 mins.)
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
 
68.
Sanshiro Sugata (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Sugata, a young man, struggles to learn the nuance and meaning of judo, and in doing so comes to learn something of the meaning of life. (79 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
“ About Shiro Saigo, an early Judo proponent. ” - Mighty_Emperor
 
69.
Muhomatsu no issho (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Matsugoro is a poor rickshaw driver whose animated spirit and optimistic demeanor make him a favorite of the town. Matsu helps an injured boy, Toshio, and is hired by the boy's parents. (80 mins.)
Director: Hiroshi Inagaki
“ aka The Life of Matsu the Untamed ” - Mighty_Emperor
 
70.
Kettô Banjakuzaka (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
(75 mins.)
Director: Daisuke Itô
 
71.
Miyamoto Musashi (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Shinobu and her brother Genichiro plead with the famous swordsman Musashi Miyamoto to teach them swordsmanship to avenge their father's death... (53 mins.)
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
 
73.
Meitô bijomaru (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Kiyone Sakurai, an apprentice swordmaker makes a sword for his guardian, Kozaemon Onoda. Onoda breaks... (65 mins.)
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
 
74.
Zoku Sugata Sanshirô (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
Sugata returns to prove his judo mastery in a match against Western opponents. (83 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
 
75.
The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A Japanese general and his men disguise themselves as monks in order to pass an enemy border patrol. (59 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
 
76.
 
78.
Surônin makaritôru (1947)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
(80 mins.)
Director: Daisuke Itô
 
79.
“ Mori no Ishimatsu was Shimizu no Jirocho's one-eyed henchman. ” - Mighty_Emperor
 
80.
Jakoman and Tetsu (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
In a village subsisting on it herring fishery, a one-eyed criminal named Jakoman terrorizes the inhabitants... (91 mins.)
 
81.
The Yotsuda Phantom (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Iemon Tamiya is an impovershed masterless samurai who craves a better life, which he cannot have because of his marriage to Oiwa, who is completely devoted to her husband (85 mins.)
 
82.
Rashomon (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A heinous crime and its aftermath are recalled from differing points of view. (88 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
 
83.
Midare-boshi Kôjin-yama (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
(77 mins.)
Director: Ryo Hagiwara
 
84.
Sasaki Kojiro (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
(116 mins.)
Director: Hiroshi Inagaki
 
85.
Ore wa yojinbo (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
(89 mins.)
Director: Hiroshi Inagaki
 
86.
Senritu (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Director: Hideo Sekigawa
 
88.
Kanketsu Sasaki Kojirô: Ganryû-jima kettô (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Master swordsman Kojiro Sasaki is not content with the knowledge of his own power and constantly seeks to impress it upon others... (98 mins.)
Director: Hiroshi Inagaki
“ aka Conclusion of Kojiro Sasaki: Duel on Ganryu Island or Sasaki Kojirô 3 ” - Mighty_Emperor
 
89.
Five Men of Edo (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
During the 17th Century bands of hatamoto, samurai vassals of the Tokugawa shogunate, were causing havoc in the new capital city of Edo... (132 mins.)
Director: Daisuke Itô
 
90.
Zoku Sasaki Kojiro (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
(116 mins.)
Director: Hiroshi Inagaki
 
91.
The Life of Oharu (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Follows a woman's fight and survival amid the vicissitudes of life and the cruelty of the society. (148 mins.)
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
 
92.
“ Based on Genzo Murakami's novel series about Shimizu no Jirocho, which spawned dozens of films - Masahiro Makino would hammer out nine of these films in the space of a couple of years. ” - Mighty_Emperor
 
93.
Araki Mataemon: Kettô kagiya no tsuji (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Mataemon Araki, a renowned swordsman, helps a young man find vengeance. (82 mins.)
Director: Kazuo Mori
 
94.
Zoku Akôjô (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
(100 mins.)
Director: Ryo Hagiwara
 
95.
Akôjô (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
(81 mins.)
Director: Ryo Hagiwara
 
96.
Yatarô gasa: zenkôhen (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
(159 mins.)
Director: Masahiro Makino
 
97.
Gate of Hell (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A samurai pursues a married lady-in-waiting. (86 mins.)
 
98.
Ugetsu (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A fantastic tale of war, love, family and ambition set in the midst of the Japanese Civil Wars of the sixteenth century. (96 mins.)
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
 
99.
“ Jirocho Sangokushi 2: First Journey ” - Mighty_Emperor
 
100.
“ Jirocho Sangokushi 3: Jirocho and Ishimatsu ” - Mighty_Emperor