An English navigator becomes both pawn and player in the deadly political games in feudal Japan.




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Complete credited cast:
Pilot-Major John Blackthorne
Lord Yoshi Toranaga
Lady Toda Buntaro - Mariko
Lord Yabu
Father Dell'Aqua
Friar Domingo
Captain Ferriera
Noburo Kaneko ...
Lord Ishido
George Innes ...
Father Sebastio
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Tôru Abe ...
Narrator (voice)
John J. Carney ...


In the 16th Century, a Dutch ship sails the Pacific from the Americas in order to escape the Spanish. Blackthorn is the pilot of the ship and the first to realize the possibilities of Japan. Japan is a feudal society which has a strong presence of the Portugese. A struggle is in the final stages for who will be the Shogun, the leader who, under the emperor, governs the land. Toranaga sees in Blackthorn things he can use to at least survive the struggle to come, and if both play their hands correctly, become Shogun. Written by John Vogel <>

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Release Date:

15 September 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

James Clavell's Shogun  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

| (Glen Glenn Sound)


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This Shogun (1980) film is a theatrical version of Shogun (1980), and was released outside of the U.S. as a two hour and five minute movie. See more »


Jet Contrail Visible at very top of screen in opening shot. See more »


Father Alvito: You are a heretic Dutchman pirate! You're going to die.
See more »


Edited from Shogun (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

A Class of its own
11 May 2002 | by (Lisburn, Northern Ireland) – See all my reviews

The Shogun, TV Miniseries has to be one of the best pieces of Tv entertainment I have seen.

I have read Clavells books on Many occasions, and it is unputdownable. It is a fabulous piece of literature and when I read it, it transports me to Japan.

The conversion to the small screen, All NINE HOURS! of it is a really good piece of work.

The book is too big to be made into a 2 or 3 hour movie, and would suffer if an attempt to do so were tried.

The mini series stays very close to the book, exploring the country, the characters, and the culture of the time. It does a good job of bringing the characters to life, and when you watch it, having read the book, you get the feeling that you know the characters.

It deals with the Feudal classes in Japan, just over 400 hundred years ago, not long after the Europeans began to trade in Asia, Mostly Spanish and Portugese. The English and Dutch, allies at the time, could not gain a foothold in the lucrative Asian market, and Blackthorne's goal was to find the Japans and initiate trade with them, but as the story unfolds, you find that he met a lot of resistance from the Portugese Priests, who held a lot of power, and were going about their business of converting Japanese to Christian.

The Japanese Empire is in a state of flux, with war looming, The Warlords are quietly aligning themselves, all trying to win, or at least be on the same side as the winner.

Add to that the Portugese and the Jesuit Priests, trying to protect their trade and their church respectfully, and then all of a sudden Blackthorne, who is really a Pirate at heart, comes on the scene.

He is an intelligent , well educated man, and soon realises that to survive, he must fight with his head more than his sword. He is seen by the Portugese as a Protestant Heretic, and they believe he and his crew should be burnt, (This was the time of the inquisition), but as the story pans out, the view realises that he has a friend or two in the ranks of the Jesuits.

The love interest is an advisor to Lord Toranaga, the main Warlord, who is wise enough to see the value of Blackthorne as a Srategic and a Tactical asset, and he throughs them together to allow him to learn the language.

All in all, this is an exceptional movie, with as many plots, sub plots, twists and turns, as a Tom Clancy film.

At 9 hours, it is long, but it does pass quickly, I have watched it over a few nights, and have watched it straight through, both ways are very enjoyable.

The only fault I could point out is the make up. It is very dated now, and I think even then it would have looked a bit odd, the Samurai all have shaven heads with a Queue, a piece of hair sticking up, and it was obvious that a lot of them were wearing rubber headpieces.

It doesn't detract in any way, and this is a great movie

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