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I find that many films either focus on story so much that they lack meaning or they go to the opposite extreme and focus so narrowly on a message that they fail as stories. Thus it is with great pleasure that I viewed a film that refreshingly melds narrative with meaning in a fashion that works so well it seems almost effortless.
Tomu Uchida's A Bloody Spear at Mt. Fuji is the story of an unassuming samurai who is more interested in a person's actions than his social standing. In spite of the rigid class divide that exists between himself and his servants he tends to treat them as his equals even when they themselves feel that they are inferior to him. The film features remarkable subplots that add scope and depth to the social criticism offered by the main plot. Among these is the story of a male orphan who idolizes the samurai's spear bearer and a young woman who is sold into prostitution because her family is too poor to support her.
The style of the film is quite unique. I don't know if I've ever seen a movie switch from one a light comedic tone to a tragic one so effectively. While this handles some of the same themes covered by directors like Mizoguchi and Naruse it does so without ever seeming overbearing or ponderous.
This film also boasts one of the best endings I've ever seen. Brilliant end to a brilliant film.
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