The first period film from Shochiku graduate, Masahiro Shinoda. The film follows the brief life of Hachiro Kiyokawa, an ambitious ronin (master-less samurai) in a time of political tumult in 19th Century Japan. Kiyokawa, a mysterious character and expert swordsman, shifts between both factions - the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Emperor - to further his own ends.
Ansatsu is a strongly nihilistic film, characterized by a lack of honour on all sides. The tone is set early on in the film, when the man charged with assassinating Kiyokawa challenges him to a public duel. Despite losing the duel, he does not take his own life for the sake of his honour and his master bemoans it as a sign of the times; the descent of honourable samurai into political assassins, for sale to the highest bidder. The Kyoto ronins have no loyalty or ideals and Kiyokawa himself embodies an amoral, mercenary attitude to life - mediating peace in the face of civil war only to realize his own ambitions of power. The film is lavishly shot in black and white cinema scope and features a fantastic, atmospheric score by Toru Takemitsu.
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