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The 47 Ronin (1941)

Genroku Chûshingura (original title)
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. The Shogun sentences Lord Asano to commit suppuku and deprives ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Chôjûrô Kawarasaki ...
Kan'emon Nakamura ...
Sukeimon Tomimori
Kunitarô Kawarazaki ...
Jurôzaemon Isogai
Yoshizaburo Arashi ...
Chôemon Bandô ...
Sôzaemon Hara
Sukezô Sukedakaya ...
Chûemon Yoshida
Kikunojo Segawa ...
Gengo Ootaka
Shotaro Ichikawa ...
Yahei Horibe
Enji Ichikawa ...
Tadashichi Takebayashi
Kikunosuke Ichikawa ...
Gengoemon Kataoka
Shinzô Yamazaki ...
Seimon Ooishi
Sensho Ichikawa ...
Matsunosuke Ooishi
Shoji Ichikawa ...
Magoemon Seo
Iwagoro Ichikawa ...
Fujiemon Hayamizu
Shinzaburo Ichikawa ...
Matanosuke Ushioda
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Storyline

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. The Shogun sentences Lord Asano to commit suppuku and deprives the palace and lands from his clan, but does not punish Lod Kira. Lord Asano's vassals leave the land and his samurais become ronin and want to seek revenge against the dishonor of their Lord. But their leader Kuranosuke Oishi asks the Shogun to restore the Asano clan with his brother Daigaku Asano. One year later, the Shogun refuses his request and Oishi and forty-six ronin revenge their Lord. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Action | Drama | History

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Release Date:

March 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The 47 Ronin  »

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1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Japanese Ministry of Information, under the militarist government, commissioned director Kenji Mizoguchi to make this film as a morale booster for the WWII war effort. But it was a commercial failure, being released in Japan one week before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The military and most audiences found the first part of the film to be too slow and serious. However, the studio and Mizoguchi both regarded it as so important that Part 2 was put into production, though Mizoguchi was forced to insert some close-ups of the stars which are totally absent from Part I. The film was finally shown in America in the 1970s. See more »

Goofs

From ~1:40 to ~1:44 an appropriate dialog sequence occurs starting with three men walking a path with one saying "Counselor, the decision has come" and ending with "we need have no fear." That same sequence is duplicated at ~2:22 to ~2:26 with the additional dialog at the end "I want you two to return to Edo at once and inform our brothers there that I will be arriving shortly." This duplicate is out of sequence with the story. See more »

Connections

Version of Chûshingura - Zempen: Akahokyô no maki (1932) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Something different in the Way of the Samurai
3 December 2014 | by (United States, Budapest, etc.) – See all my reviews

Mizoguchi's Genroku CHUSHINGURA: originally written for the Japanese Hokubei Mainichi, San Francisco, November 5, 1976

Chushingura, the story of the 47 Loyal Ronin of Ako, the unofficial national epic of Japan, has been filmed probably more times than any other subject in Japanese film history. Starting in the silent days (first version a filmed Kabuki performance in 1913) there have been well over a dozen editions of this perennial favorite over the years, including a feature length cartoon about 47 dogs entitled "Wan-Wan Chushingura". ( N.B. wan-wan ="bow wow" in Japanese.)

Of these various film treatments the only one which can be said to be fairly well known in this country is the relatively popular 1963 Toho all-star edition by Hiroshima Inagaki. In the Bay Area the Inagaki Chushingura has been so over promoted (since It happens to be owned by a Berkeley distributor) that most people around here are not even aware that other versions of the film exist. Another, and in the opinion of this writer, far more interesting treatment of the Chushingura story, directed by Kenji MIzoguchi in 1942, just after Pearl Harbor, is now on view for a weeks run at the Telegraph Repertory Cinema in Berkeley near the campus.

This film, a landmark of the forties and a landmark of the MIzoguchi repertoire as well, did receive limited exposure earlier this year before small museum audiences at the Pacific Film Archive during the course of a MIzoguchi retrospective held there in April. The current run at the Tel-Rep is, however, to the best of my knowledge, the first real commercial exposure this remarkable film has ever had in this country.

It is well known that fidelity is one of the cardinal Japanese virtues, and adherence to an established code of behavior another. As the ultimate dramatic exemplification of these fundamental Japanese values the Chushingura story is unrivaled.

In the spring of the year 1702 at the height of the Genroku period the idealistic young Lord Asano of Ako castle (present day Hyogo Prefecture near Kobe) refusing to pay a bribe in return for instruction in courtly protocol, is baited into drawing his sword against the sleazy corrupt Master of Ceremonies, Lord Kira at the Shogun's palace. For this unpardonable breach of the courtly code he is forced to commit Harakiri, the Asano clan is disbanded, and all his retainers are reduced to outcast Ronin -- wandering masterless Samurai -- the lowest of the low in the strict Samurai social order.

Responsibility for restoring the honor of the Aano clan now falls upon the shoulders of the chamberlain and chief retainer, Oishi Kuranosuke. The only way to achieve this is by a blood vendetta against Kira, but Kira is, of course, expecting this and goes into hiding.

in order to lull Kira into a false sense of security Oishi In turn himself goes underground abandoning his family and pretending to lead a dissolute life devoted to pleasure. So determined is Oishi in maintaining this pretense to ensure the ultimate success of his mission that even the widow of Lord Asano is convinced that he has lost his nerve and she refuses to permit him to offer incense on the anniversary of Asano's death.

on Christmas Day, 1703, after enduring more than a year if public shame and private deprivation, finally surfaces and leads the 47 Samurai who have remained loyal throughout (although many have not and have dropped out) in the famous attack in the snow on the Kira estate. Kira's head is taken as vowed and the loyal 47 march solemnly to Asano's grave to pay their last respects.

The inescapable penalty for this act of defiance against the Shogunate was, of course, Seppuku for all involved --the ultimate example of Death before Dishonor and and all forty- seven Ronin accepted their fate of mass suicide by disembowelment -- the excising of ones own intestines without benefit of anesthetic -- with great dignity, upholding thus their collective code of honor to the last.

The 47 Ronin became a latter day legend and their tomb a national shrine at which many Japanese spend a quiet moment of contemplation each year. (The tomb of the Forty Seven is located a few minutes walk from Mita station in Tokyo).

Where the Inagaki version of this story is all color, pageantry, and swordplay, a typical TOHO spectacular, the Mizo version, in subtle shadings of black and white, is a far more penetrating study of the psychology and morality involved. It must be pointed out that the film was commissioned by the wartime Japanese government to foster the jingoistic Samurai spirit and it is much to Mizoguchi's credit that even under such pressure he was able to make a picture in which not a single sword fight is actually shown. All violent action, including the final assault on the Kira house, takes place off screen and is merely reported.

MIzoguchi was concerned not with action itself, but with the psychological effect of violent action on people not directly involved. {Talk about contemporary relevance to a place called Ferguson, 2014!} This indirect psychological approach to violence coupled with the famous Mizoguchi floating camera Style and his uncanny sense of pictorial composition combine to make this four hour film a lasting experience. If you approach this film looking for the usual Samurai chambara clichés you will be disappointed. The First Time I saw it a couple of years ago I must admit I was a little bored. Seeing it for the fourth time the other night, the flashier Inagaki version began to pale by comparison. But then MIzoguchi was a genius whereas Inagaki was merely a competent contract director. Give this a BIG FAT **********


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