Freitag, 1. November 2013

Chushingura / 47 Samurai (Hiroshi Inagaki, 1962)

The 47 loyal ronin revenge the death of their master years after his unfair death sentence.

This version of the famous japanese tale depicts the events that lead to the seppuku of Lord Asano and the regrouping of the 47 samurai and their careful planning to get Lord Kira's head, the person that was responsible for their master's death.

I preferred Mizoguchi's version of 1947 where Asano's death was simply recounted, not shown. This epic rendering of the story comes across as a bit heavy-handed. There are way too many characters it tries to follow - and most of them are not very convincing. This sheer mass of different sidelines results in the appearing characters being very two-dimensional and the scenes they play out a bit clichéd. In some of the scenes I wasn't even sure, whose story was told presently.

From what I gather, it looks like Toho wanted to present a mass-audience compatible version, throwing in a lot of the stars. Mifune has his role, but his character is practically irrelevant to the story. And there are other familiar faces from Kurosawa's and Naruse's films, but they pop up and disappear quickly.

On the other hand, the legend is entertaining to watch and it gives a good sense of what the Japanese folklore seems to value - loyalty and codes of honor. When these two clash, a consequence of human nature, it is up to the individual to decide about the right action with the rigid system of morality and subservient behaviour to the "lords".

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