A young lord attempts to combat the corruption endemic to the Shogunate bureaucracy, only to be placed in an impossible conflict of duties. He refuses to pay the "customary" bribe expected by a Chancellor sent from the Shogunate to teach him the etiquette for receiving envoys from the Emperor. In revenge, the Chancellor goads the lord into drawing his sword when the envoys are present, a crime punishable by death. The young lord is forced to commit ritual suicide for this crime. His vassals are ordered to turn over their lords estate for confiscation, forbidden to take revenge for their lords death, then disbanded as a clan. To obey the Shogun, the lords former samurai must follow those orders, but to be loyal to oaths they swore to their lord and have justice, they must avenge him. This conflict of obligations is the primary dilemma in Japanese society, which is why this story is considered their national epic. The story is richly woven and the film worth seeing for the gorgeous art ... Written by
Mike O'Brien <email@example.com>
A masterpiece finally widely available in the West
"Chushingura" offers one of the screen's finest and most powerful depictions of the personal qualities of integrity, loyalty, and personal sacrifice. This exquisite-looking film, photographed in rich color for the wide screen, is much more compelling than Mizoguchi's rather stolid WWII era telling of the oft-filmed story of the loyal 47 ronin. Although this one might have benefitted from slight trimming in the middle, it largely holds the interest for more than three hours and ends with a final showdown that's one of the most exciting ever filmed. Its release in the West on video should go far in increasing the underrated director Inagaki's reputation. This, and Masaki Kobayashi's "Harakiri," also released in 1962, are two of the greatest films made in Japan.
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