Impersonating an Imperial Army officer by wearing a "red lion's mane", a poor servant returns to his village after 10 years of absence to end the village's suffering caused by corrupt ... See full summary »
Following the death of the second Tokugawa shogun, it is revealed that he was poisoned by retainers of his son Iemitsu in hopes of gaining him the shogunate despite the stammer and ... See full summary »
The mother of a feudal lord's only heir is kidnapped away from her husband by the lord. The husband and his samurai father must decide whether to accept the unjust decision, or risk death to get her back.
Shiba, a wandering ronin, encounters a band of peasants who have kidnapped the daughter of their dictatorial magistrate, in hopes of coercing from him a reduction in taxes. Shiba takes up ... See full summary »
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 <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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