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The 47 Ronin (1941)

Genroku Chûshingura (original title)
In 1701, Lord Takuminokami Asano has a feud with Lord Kira and he tries to kill Kira in the corridors of the Shogun's palace. The Shogun sentences Lord Asano to commit suppuku and deprives ... See full summary »


Kenji Mizoguchi


Kenichiro Hara (screenplay), Seika Mayama (play) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Chôjûrô Kawarasaki Chôjûrô Kawarasaki ... Kuranosuke Ooishi
Kan'emon Nakamura Kan'emon Nakamura ... Sukeimon Tomimori
Kunitarô Kawarazaki Kunitarô Kawarazaki ... Jurôzaemon Isogai
Yoshizaburo Arashi Yoshizaburo Arashi ... Lord Takuminokami Asano
Chôemon Bandô Chôemon Bandô ... Sôzaemon Hara
Sukezô Sukedakaya Sukezô Sukedakaya ... Chûemon Yoshida
Kikunojo Segawa Kikunojo Segawa ... Gengo Ootaka
Shotaro Ichikawa Shotaro Ichikawa ... Yahei Horibe
Enji Ichikawa Enji Ichikawa ... Tadashichi Takebayashi
Kikunosuke Ichikawa Kikunosuke Ichikawa ... Gengoemon Kataoka
Shinzô Yamazaki Shinzô Yamazaki ... Seimon Ooishi
Sensho Ichikawa Sensho Ichikawa ... Matsunosuke Ooishi
Shoji Ichikawa Shoji Ichikawa ... Magoemon Seo
Iwagoro Ichikawa Iwagoro Ichikawa ... Fujiemon Hayamizu
Shinzaburo Ichikawa Shinzaburo Ichikawa ... Matanosuke Ushioda


In 1701, Lord Takuminokami Asano has a feud with Lord Kira and he tries to kill Kira in the corridors of the Shogun's palace. The Shogun sentences Lord Asano to commit suppuku and deprives the palace and lands from his clan, but does not punish Lord Kira. Lord Asano's vassals leave the land and his samurais become ronin and want to seek revenge against the dishonor of their Lord. But their leader Kuranosuke Oishi asks the Shogun to restore the Asano clan with his brother Daigaku Asano. One year later, the Shogun refuses his request and Oishi and forty-six ronin revenge their Lord. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Action | Drama | History


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Release Date:

March 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The 47 Ronin: Parts 1 and 2 See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Shochiku See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (DVD)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The original play "Genroku Chushingura" is probably the most well researched, historically accurate account of the famous Ako Vendetta that happened in 1702. Though the film was partially supported by the Ministry of Information to promote the idea of loyalty to the Japanese population just before entering WW II, it is interesting that the original play was written for the communism-oriented collective Kabuki troops 'Zenshinza', and most of the original cast members also played the same roles in the film version. See more »


From ~1:40 to ~1:44 an appropriate dialog sequence occurs starting with three men walking a path with one saying "Counselor, the decision has come" and ending with "we need have no fear." That same sequence is duplicated at ~2:22 to ~2:26 with the additional dialog at the end "I want you two to return to Edo at once and inform our brothers there that I will be arriving shortly." This duplicate is out of sequence with the story. See more »


Referenced in Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director (1975) See more »

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User Reviews

Something different in the Way of the Samurai
3 December 2014 | by Barev2013See all my reviews

Mizoguchi's Genroku CHUSHINGURA: originally written for the Japanese Hokubei Mainichi, San Francisco, November 5, 1976

Chushingura, the story of the 47 Loyal Ronin of Ako, the unofficial national epic of Japan, has been filmed probably more times than any other subject in Japanese film history. Starting in the silent days (first version a filmed Kabuki performance in 1913) there have been well over a dozen editions of this perennial favorite over the years, including a feature length cartoon about 47 dogs entitled "Wan-Wan Chushingura". ( N.B. wan-wan ="bow wow" in Japanese.)

Of these various film treatments the only one which can be said to be fairly well known in this country is the relatively popular 1963 Toho all-star edition by Hiroshima Inagaki. In the Bay Area the Inagaki Chushingura has been so over promoted (since It happens to be owned by a Berkeley distributor) that most people around here are not even aware that other versions of the film exist. Another, and in the opinion of this writer, far more interesting treatment of the Chushingura story, directed by Kenji MIzoguchi in 1942, just after Pearl Harbor, is now on view for a weeks run at the Telegraph Repertory Cinema in Berkeley near the campus.

This film, a landmark of the forties and a landmark of the MIzoguchi repertoire as well, did receive limited exposure earlier this year before small museum audiences at the Pacific Film Archive during the course of a MIzoguchi retrospective held there in April. The current run at the Tel-Rep is, however, to the best of my knowledge, the first real commercial exposure this remarkable film has ever had in this country.

It is well known that fidelity is one of the cardinal Japanese virtues, and adherence to an established code of behavior another. As the ultimate dramatic exemplification of these fundamental Japanese values the Chushingura story is unrivaled.

In the spring of the year 1702 at the height of the Genroku period the idealistic young Lord Asano of Ako castle (present day Hyogo Prefecture near Kobe) refusing to pay a bribe in return for instruction in courtly protocol, is baited into drawing his sword against the sleazy corrupt Master of Ceremonies, Lord Kira at the Shogun's palace. For this unpardonable breach of the courtly code he is forced to commit Harakiri, the Asano clan is disbanded, and all his retainers are reduced to outcast Ronin -- wandering masterless Samurai -- the lowest of the low in the strict Samurai social order.

Responsibility for restoring the honor of the Aano clan now falls upon the shoulders of the chamberlain and chief retainer, Oishi Kuranosuke. The only way to achieve this is by a blood vendetta against Kira, but Kira is, of course, expecting this and goes into hiding.

in order to lull Kira into a false sense of security Oishi In turn himself goes underground abandoning his family and pretending to lead a dissolute life devoted to pleasure. So determined is Oishi in maintaining this pretense to ensure the ultimate success of his mission that even the widow of Lord Asano is convinced that he has lost his nerve and she refuses to permit him to offer incense on the anniversary of Asano's death.

on Christmas Day, 1703, after enduring more than a year if public shame and private deprivation, finally surfaces and leads the 47 Samurai who have remained loyal throughout (although many have not and have dropped out) in the famous attack in the snow on the Kira estate. Kira's head is taken as vowed and the loyal 47 march solemnly to Asano's grave to pay their last respects.

The inescapable penalty for this act of defiance against the Shogunate was, of course, Seppuku for all involved --the ultimate example of Death before Dishonor and and all forty- seven Ronin accepted their fate of mass suicide by disembowelment -- the excising of ones own intestines without benefit of anesthetic -- with great dignity, upholding thus their collective code of honor to the last.

The 47 Ronin became a latter day legend and their tomb a national shrine at which many Japanese spend a quiet moment of contemplation each year. (The tomb of the Forty Seven is located a few minutes walk from Mita station in Tokyo).

Where the Inagaki version of this story is all color, pageantry, and swordplay, a typical TOHO spectacular, the Mizo version, in subtle shadings of black and white, is a far more penetrating study of the psychology and morality involved. It must be pointed out that the film was commissioned by the wartime Japanese government to foster the jingoistic Samurai spirit and it is much to Mizoguchi's credit that even under such pressure he was able to make a picture in which not a single sword fight is actually shown. All violent action, including the final assault on the Kira house, takes place off screen and is merely reported.

MIzoguchi was concerned not with action itself, but with the psychological effect of violent action on people not directly involved. {Talk about contemporary relevance to a place called Ferguson, 2014!} This indirect psychological approach to violence coupled with the famous Mizoguchi floating camera Style and his uncanny sense of pictorial composition combine to make this four hour film a lasting experience. If you approach this film looking for the usual Samurai chambara clichés you will be disappointed. The First Time I saw it a couple of years ago I must admit I was a little bored. Seeing it for the fourth time the other night, the flashier Inagaki version began to pale by comparison. But then MIzoguchi was a genius whereas Inagaki was merely a competent contract director. Give this a BIG FAT **********

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