A Buddhist priest becomes also a magician, dedicating himself to the protection of life wherever it's needed, whereupon he finds himself in direct service of the Queen. Political intrigue ...
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A Buddhist priest becomes also a magician, dedicating himself to the protection of life wherever it's needed, whereupon he finds himself in direct service of the Queen. Political intrigue tightens around him as it is increasingly assumed that he harbors ulterior motives. Set in Japan's Nara Era (710 - 794 A.D.), the story is loosely based on Mikado (Empress) Koken-Shotoku and Dokyo, a Yamabushi (mountain warrior monk who practices a rugged, intense form of Vajrayana Buddhism founded by his master, Do-en).Written by
Reading the synopsis of YOSO I was struck that this might be a light hearted comedy with its tongue firmly in its cheek as a Buddhist monk called Dokyo finds himself possessing mystical powers , This isn't the case at all because the Japanese aren't known for their sense of humour . Instead what we have is a typical Japanese film from the period that drowns in a sombre sea as a Priest uses his powers to save the life of a Queen and finding himself hated by the Queen's cabinet who wish to install her son on the throne . , I was instantly reminded of a true life obscurantist of the 20th Century , that involving Rasputin and wondered if it directly inspired that film ? Again typical of Japanese cinema from this period every scene is beautifully framed and contains very good set design but the music which feels like it belongs in a horror film or melodrama is painfully intrusive
It also suffers from another flaw and that is the line between the good guys and bad guys are too broadly drawn . This was a major fundamental problem with Masaki Kobayashi's other wise stunning film trilogy THE HUMAN CONDITION and here Teinosuke Kinugasa brings the same flaw to this film in that Dokyo isfar too pious and righteous to take entirely seriously while the bad guys are obvious greedy for power but we never learn why this is the case for their ulterior motives . Of course there is a subtext of religion here but this is nullified early in the film where Dokyo promises the soul of his mentor that he will improve the lot of the masses which isn't a pledge that is unique to religion and could easily have been made by a secularist . In other words regardless of your religious views the line between good and bad merely exist to make up the story and in effect we have a very simplistic - though well made - film about the abuse of power when it could have tried a lot harder to be complex
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