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 <email@example.com>
One of the greatest cultural "gifts" to the world of the 20th Century
It is unfortunate, to say the least, that the original 1962 incredibly loving critiques are no longer in print regarding the true nature of the origin, history and creation of this film. When I first saw it in 1963 (at the Castro, I believe, in S.F.) there was a lengthy story "blown up" on display board in the entryway. This film was a one-of-a- kind deliberate and heartfelt "gift to the world", created by a group of Japanese artists using film as their medium. This particular film was a reflection of what happened in the hearts of sentient Japanese artists AFTER Japan's defeat in WWII. Out of profound dignity they crafted this film to tell of the truest, deepest beauty of their culture, revealing it through the vulnerable opening of their hearts and sharing the story of the true Japan. In a manner similar to "The Passion" of our time, there was always a great historical purpose to this gift -- not merely a commercial undertaking. Thus, I believe the HISTORY of this film holds an even more noble place than the film itself, which happens to be a masterpiece painted with the love of its creators.
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