A young lord attempts to combat the official corruption endemic to the Shogunate, only to be placed in an impossible conflict of duties. He refuses to bribe a Chancelor who is responsible for teaching him the etiquette to receive the Shogun's envoys. The Chancelor goads him into drawing his sword when the envoys are present, a crime punishable by death. The young lord's vassals are ordered to break up his estate, and his samurai to disband. To obey the Shogun, they must follow orders, but to be loyal to their master and to elemental fairness, they must revenge him. The conflict of obligations is the essential dilemma of Japanese society, which is why this is their national epic. The story is richly woven. Worth seeing just for the supremely gorgeous art works, buildings and costumes of 18th century Japan. Written by
Mike O'Brien <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A beautiful tribute to Japan's most famous true story
In 1962, Toho Ltd. released "Chuchingura" as an anniversary piece. At nearly four hours' length, it almost requires a devotion to Japanese cinema and the culture's many nuances to appreciate. But it is exquisitely filmed in Toho Vision, right down to the fluttering cherry blossoms and snow tumbling from trees, and the costumes, sets and makeup win my awards for best I've seen from Tokyo. Having been to Japan and studied Japanese literature and language in the '60s, it was fairly easy for me to get into the story. Indeed, it has been written about many times, and anyone who has read one of the stories should be able to follow the plot. Like many epic films, it begins to bog down in the center, as the ronin go their separate ways and take up all matters of industry and living conditions, fall in love or not, waiting for the day of retribution. We are led up to that point with the unfolding of the drama behind the story. The fast-paced conclusion brings it all together and ends, rather abruptly I thought, with a narrative about what happens once the deed was fulfilled. It's a story of loyalty and courage to the nth degree. The bushido code is one of Japan's most revered cultural elements and it is celebrated here. If you can tolerate the length, the film is definitely worth a look, if for no other reason than to understand more about what the Japanese samurai life in the 18th and 19th centuries was like.
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