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.
A sadistic Daimyo (feudal lord) rapes a woman and murders both her and her husband, but even when one of his own vassals commits suicide to bring attention to the crime, the matter is ... See full summary »
Amorality in Japan. Tome is born into poverty in rural Japan, in the late 1910s. Chuji, her father, dotes on her; her mother is less faithful. Tome becomes a neighbor's mistress, works at ... See full summary »
Bombing during World War II resulted in whole urban populations fleeing to the countryside, and this created a meeting of urban and rural cultures. Shinji (a young boy evacuated from Tokyo)... See full summary »
Intellectual but sometimes confusing political thriller
This rarely-seen Japanese film centres around a mysterious wandering ronin Hachiro Kiyokawa (Tetsuro Tanba) as he juggles between the Shogunate and the Emperor sympathisers in 19th-century Japan. As the pre-credits text informs us (in detail), four American warships arrived in 1853, upsetting the political balance in Japan, as the country divides into the Liberal Shogunate, and the Imperialists who want all foreign influence banished. Kiyokawa's story is told by various supporting players in flashback and the film jumps around a detailed timeline. We never know or fully understand Kiyokawa's intentions and political preference as he proves unpredictable and at time, extremely ruthless.
The film is more of a political thriller than a traditional samurai film, full of conversations in dark rooms, back-stabbings, bargains and power-shifts. Director Masahiro Shinoda never feels like he has to make it easy for the audience to follow, as the large cast of minor players are never fully developed enough, so it's difficult to keep up with who is who. This, I feel, works both for and against the film. It is on one hand highly intelligent and intellectually stimulating, but on the other hand it allows the plot to become convoluted. It's a shame because I would like to have had time to soak up the mysterious atmosphere, and the beautiful cinematography on show. It is though, as a whole, a very good film, and one I will watch again when I get the chance, in order to wrap my tiny brain around the complex plot.
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