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Scenic take on a Samurai's morally challenging assignment
This is a well-made Samurai piece and also the only "HD quality" movie presented in the Japanese Film Festival 2013 in GSC. The story is pretty simple and straightforward. It is a journey of a respected samurai (and his sidekick) who was given a morally challenging assignment from his Lord.
The pace was a tad too slow for me, but there is a reason for that. The Samurai here required ample time, to think and take things slowly, to consider every key point in history (hence the flash backs) to fully understand the meaning of his task. Which also meant balancing between his loyalty to his professional calling and the conflicts that involved family and friendship. In this respect, the movie did good job providing sufficient materials for the audience understanding.
Nevertheless, I believe the pace was just right for the mass audience to appreciate the great scenery, the masterful music composition (sounds to me that Hishashi was behind this), and the feelings each character had towards the consequences of the task.
Perhaps the biggest problem that prevented me from giving a 7 star (or above) is the acting performances, while good in general, is too theatrical, slow and too silent at times. It takes away more rational actions, especially by the female characters, that could add variety to the theme. The fact that women at that time was supposed to be submissive may as well be made redundant by the fact that the mother was a very outspoken character. However, the main character's wife seemed too calm for the fact that her loved ones may lose their lives. Tazu was another surprise towards the end of the film, knowing her personality, she accepted defeat (and a solution) too easily.
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