During a downpour, a generous ronin and his supporting wife are stranded at a country inn. The ronin comes to the attention of a lord who wants to hire him as an instructor for his men, who treat the ronin with disrespect.
An tale of revenge, honor and disgrace, centering on a poverty-stricken samurai who discovers the fate of his ronin son-in-law, setting in motion a tense showdown of vengeance against the house of a feudal lord.
An elder ronin samurai arrives at a feudal lord's home and requests an honorable place to commit suicide. But when the ronin inquires about a younger samurai who arrived before him things take an unexpected turn.
The mother of a feudal lord's only heir is kidnapped away from her husband by the lord. The husband and his samurai father must decide whether to accept the unjust decision, or risk death to get her back.
Seibei Iguchi, a low-ranking samurai, leads a life without glory as a bureaucrat in the mid-XIX century Japan. A widower, he has charge of two daughters (whom he adores) and a senile mother; he must therefore work in the fields and accept piecework to make ends meet. New prospects seem to open up when Tomoe, his long-time love, divorces a brutal husband. However, even as the Japanese feudal system is unraveling, Seibei remains bound by the code of honour of the samurai and by his own sense of social precedences. The consequences are cruel.Written by
Eduardo Casais <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Official submission of Japan for the 'Best Foreign Language Film' category of the 76th Academy Awards in 2004. See more »
I am ashamed to say that over many years of hardship with two daughters, a sick wife and an aged mother, I have lost the desire to wield a sword. A serious fight, the killing of a man, requires animal ferocity and calm disregard for one's own life. I have neither of those within me now. Perhaps in a month... alone with the beasts in the hills I could get them back. But tomorrow, I am afraid, is completely impossible.
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I approached director Yoji Yamada's period film anticipating the usual brew of flashing blades, unfathomable codes of honour and majestic arterial sprays but found instead a gently melancholic and beautifully played story of unspoken love and ethical struggle.
Seibei (a mesmerising less-is-more turn from Hiroyuki Sanada) is a low-ranking widowed samurai with a senile mother and two daughters, working in the castle's stores and taking in piecework to get by.
Grief at his wife's death has led him to turn his back on violence but he is confronted with it nonetheless, firstly as a result of the return of a childhood friend for whom he has strong feelings and who is fleeing her abusive marriage and, finally, when the politics of the day overtake his clan and he is ordered to carry out an assassination.
Seibei's struggle is not for outward respect but to find integrity within a social order over which he has no influence, making the bursts of violence all the more jarring.
Yamada's film is rightly compared to Kurosawa's work and its thoughtful, lyrical tone and themes resonate powerfully.
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