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Urs Peter Halter
Set during Japan's Shogun era, this film looks at life in a samurai compound where young warriors are trained in swordfighting. A number of interpersonal conflicts are brewing in the training room, all centering around a handsome young samurai named Sozaburo Kano. The school's stern master can choose to intervene, or to let Kano decide his own path.Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I happened to catch this film on BBC4 last night. My attention was immediately caught by the stunning Japanese setting, and as the film progressed, by the unusual storyline.
This film is about the Shinsen militia: a group of samurai in shogun times. The story explores the homoerotic tensions between the men, as well as the conflict with another militia (group of samurai).
In a way, not much happens in the film, but at the same time, it is fascinating from beginning to end. Takeshi 'Beat' Kitano gives an impressive performance as one of the older samurai, and in fact all the actors are very good.
While the overall atmosphere of the film is quite dark, there are many funny moments which lift the mood. The humour is quite subtle - no slapstick here.
The film is visually stunning, with wonderful use of light and colour to emphasise the mood of each scene. The Japanese mountains, lakes, and buildings look gorgeous.
There are some moments in the film which are quite graphic, both sex and violence. However, this is not done in a gratuitous or grotesque way, and I didn't find it offensive.
Overall, as another reviewer has commented, this film is somewhat cold. Despite the powerful events that happen in the film, they don't really emotionally involve you as a viewer. The film almost feels like a parable rather than a 'realistic' story.
In summary, this is a gorgeous-looking film with an unusual subject matter, which is well worth watching.
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