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Warau Iemon (2004)

 -  Drama | Horror  -  7 February 2004 (Japan)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 62 users  
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Having put down his sword and given up the will to fight, the masterless samurai Iemon lives in solitude while being haunted by his violent enigmatic past. Persuaded by a travelling priest ... See full summary »

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Title: Warau Iemon (2004)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Toshiaki Karasawa ...
Iemon
...
O-Iwa (Tamiya Iwa)
...
Mataichi
Hiroyuki Ikeuchi ...
Naosuke
Naomasa Musaka
Hisashi Igawa
Makoto
Fujiko ...
Oume (as Reo Matsuo)
Shiho Fujimura
Kippei Shîna ...
Ito Kihei
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Masafumi Senô
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Storyline

Having put down his sword and given up the will to fight, the masterless samurai Iemon lives in solitude while being haunted by his violent enigmatic past. Persuaded by a travelling priest and a blind masseur he agrees to marry the lady Iwa who's face has been left horribly scarred after a long illness. Their union is cut short when Ito the head of the guard, and one of Iwa's former suitors, begins spreading foul rumours about Iemon driving a wedge between the lovers. The two go their separate ways while still being haunted by the memories of each other and the time they shared. Still harbouring feelings for one another both Iemon and Iwa's worlds are plunged into turmoil resulting in a bloody and dramatic finale. Written by FMaier

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Horror

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7 February 2004 (Japan)  »

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User Reviews

 
An unusual take on a classic story.
9 August 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Warau Iemon is based on one of Japan's classic ghost stories - Yotsuya Kaidan. This story has be produced for stage as well as film. In fact the only other stories that have been filmed with as many versions would be the stories of Chushingura and Miyamoto Musashi. Indeed there is even a movie in which both Chushingura and Yotsuya Kaidan were combined.

However this version of the story has the feel of an origin story - as if to say, "you know the ghost story, well this is the real story upon which that tale is based. And I have to say, this take is much more satisfying and emotionally charged. Traditionally the characters of Iemon and Oiwa are presented with Iemon as the ambitious and heartless husband and Oiwa as the jilted and murdered lover who's reputation has been tainted by the lies. In the ghost story she returns as a disfigured avenging spirit. In Warau Iemon, Oiwa begins the story already in a disfigured state do to disease which robbed her of her exceptional good looks. Her pride remains and in truth so does the beauty, albeit masked slightly by scars and damaged eye. Iemon in this version also carries scars from his past, though they are emotional and perhaps much deeper. Both actors in their roles, Koyuki as Oiwa and Karasawa Toshiaki add incredible depth to these characters with sincerity and precision and truly bring them to life.

It is a common practice for actors who have accepted these roles to make an offering and pay their respects to Oiwa's spirit. Productions in which this has not been observed have been subject to mysterious mishaps and bad luck. For me this movie is perhaps the best offering to make to their troubled spirits. This version was respectful and indeed loving. Certainly it is my own favorite version of the story. I don't know if it presently available on DVD with English subtitles, but certainly if you are familiar with the story, I would not let keep you from watching the film. I give it my highest rating.


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