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Samurai Banners (1969)

Fûrin kazan (original title)
Feudal Japan, 1543 to 1562. Kansuke Yamamoto is a samurai who dreams of a country united, peaceful from sea to sea. He enters the service of Takeda, the lord of Kai domain. He convinces ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Yoshiko Sakuma ...
Princess Yufu
Kinnosuke Nakamura ...
...
Katsuo Nakamura ...
Nobusato Itagaki
Kanzaburô Nakamura ...
Katsuyori Takeda (as Kankurô Nakamura)
Kan'emon Nakamura ...
Nobukato Itagaki
Masakazu Tamura ...
Nobushige Takeda
Mayumi Ôzora ...
Princess Okoto
Ken Ogata
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
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Storyline

Feudal Japan, 1543 to 1562. Kansuke Yamamoto is a samurai who dreams of a country united, peaceful from sea to sea. He enters the service of Takeda, the lord of Kai domain. He convinces Takeda to kill the lord of neighboring Suwa and take his wife as a concubine. He then convinces the widow, Princess Yu, to accept this arrangement and to bear Takeda a son. He pledges them his life. He then spends years using treachery, poetic sensibility, military and political strategy to expand Takeda's realm, advance the claim of Yu's son as the heir, and prepare for an ultimate battle with the forces of Echigo. Has Kansuke overreached? Are his dreams, blinded by love, too big? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Release Date:

24 June 1969 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Samurai Banners  »

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(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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User Reviews

 
"Samurai Banners" - delivers the banners
30 March 2007 | by (NYC) – See all my reviews

A large scale production based on history, this film resembles the later samurai dramas produced for Japanese TV in that a reasonable familiarity with Japanese history would help with the overall understanding of the project.

Mifune plays Kansuke Yamamoto, a ronin with a strong dream of uniting a large part of Japan under one banner. He manages to get hired by a vassal of powerful clan leader Shingen Takeda by betraying a fellow ronin and killing him. Kanasuke quickly rises to the position of main adviser to Takeda as he manipulates Takeda's plans for conquest. The battles go well and along the way Kansuke captures a princess who becomes Takeda's concubine and bears Takeda a son. Kansuke shows a paternal concern for the child and vows to give him a vast realm to lord over.

Inagaki, who was at the tail end of a very long directorial career, creates a detailed recreation of the times especially the armies of the various warring clans. The direction is assured and while old fashioned at times he engages in some very interesting directorial techniques. The photography is very good and the composition of some of the scenes is excellent. All the actors are great although Mifune gets overly theatrical occasionally.

There are hundreds of banners in the film and Kansuke seems to be obsessed with his clan's banner. If this is of historical significance, the film doesn't explain it. The massive battle scenes are vaguely similar to the scenes in Kurosawa's Ran made a number of years later. There's lots of horses and people running to and fro. The actual combat scenes are good but not special.

A very long film at 2 hours and 45 minutes, it managed to hold my interest due to the talent involved but it is an effort to get through. There are a couple of talky scenes and the ending, while possibly accurate, isn't the best. It's as if the film lost it's steam with ten minutes to go. Also the opening set piece with Kansuke betraying the other ronin sets up a dark character that is never really explored again. He's a haunted man obsessed with his dream of unifying Japan but the cold-hearted murderer we are first shown never comes back.

Recommended for samurai films buffs, Mifune fans and people who like long historical dramas. If you are looking for a classic chambara with a simple story and strong quirky characters, this probably isn't the best.


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