TOTAL MASSACRE – 13 Assassins

3 06 2015

13 Assassins (Toho Co. Ltd. - 2010)

Back in 2010/2011, I kept on spotting posters for a Japanese film being shown at cinemas in the UK. I hardly knew anything about it, but I was interested enough to keep it in mind. I did not get to see it though until late June 2012. It was on Sky Movies Premiere on a late night showing, so I recorded it and watched it later that week. I saw clips of it here and there before watching it fully; then I saw it. I was amazed at what the film was and became hooked from that first viewing. Every time it was and has been on TV since, I have just dropped watching, whatever it was I was watching at the time and immediately turned over to watch the film again, no matter where it was. It is one of the films I have watched and mentioned more than any other in the last few years and is one that remains high on my Top 10 (Non-Godzilla) film list.

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Released in 2010 and co-produced and distributed by Toho, 13 Assassins is a Japanese Epic Samurai film directed by Horror Master Takashi Miike. Miike is possibly best known for his highly controversial horror movie output and has directed more than 95 films to date including the films Audition, Ichi the Killer and Three… Extremes. 13 Assassins is actually a remake of Eiichi Kudô‘s film; The Thirteen Assassins (Jûsan-nin no shikaku), which I have not seen.

Jûsan-nin no shikaku (1963)

In 1840’s Japan, during the Tokugawa Shogunate, the young, sadistic half-brother of the shogun; Lord Matsudaira Naritsugu (Gorô Inagaki) of Akashi, is responsible for a wave of horrible atrocities including murder, rape and torture which he commits at will. After Zusho Mamiya (Seiyô Uchino) commits Seppuku in protest of Naritsugu’s activities, Sir Doi Toshitsura (Mikijirô Hira) decides to take action fearing more atrocities will follow after Naritsugu achieves a higher level in power. Sir Doi seeks out older and respected Samurai; Shimada Shinzaemon (Kôji Yakusho) and provides evidence of crimes performed by Naritsugu including the Murder of Yukie Makino’s son Unume (Takumi Saitô) and the mutilation of a peasant leader’s daughter (Sakurako Moteki). Sir Doi requests that Shinzaemon carry out the assassination of Naritsugu before he can gain any more power. Shinzaemon agrees, but a fellow former student of his, and one of Naritsugu’s loyal retainers; Hanbei (Masachika Ichimura) keeps an eye on him.

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Shinzaemon begins hiring other samurai to help out in the assassination plot including skilled Samurai Hirayama Kujūrō (Tsuyoshi Ihara), and Shinzaemon’s second in command Kuranaga Saheita (Hiroki Matsukata). Kuranaga brings others from his dojo too including Assistant Chief Inspector Mitsuhashi Gunjirō (Ikki Sawamura), Kuranaga’s subordinates; Hioki Yasokichi (Sôsuke Takaoka), and Ōtake Mosuke (Seiji Rokkaku), as well as Mitsuhashi’s men Horii Yahachi (Kôen Kondô) and Higuchi Gennai (Yûma Ishigaki). Hanbei continues to keep an eye on Shinzaemon, but his assistant Judayu Asakawa (Ken Mitsuishi) unwittingly sends men to attack Shinzaemon, who are then quickly slain by Hirayama. While out gambling one evening, Shinzaemon’s nephew Shimada Shinrokurō (Takayuki Yamada) runs into his uncle who talks to him about his big plan. Shinrokuro decides to join in with his Uncle’s assassination plot as it sounds promising, leaving home and his girl Tsuya (Kazue Fukiishi) who doesn’t want him to go. The following morning, Hirayama’s only student; Ogura Shōujirō (Masataka Kubota) joins up, despite Shinzaemon thinking he is too young to join such a fight. Along with him is Sahara Heizō (Arata Furuta), an elderly samurai who prefers to fight with his spear instead of a sword but requests money in exchange for his service (then finally Ishizuka Rihei (Kazuki Namioka) joins in along with Sahara too, but not on-screen). Now 12 warriors in total, Shinzaemon sets them to work. Hirayama trains them all in fighting techniques, while Higuchi and Horii train in explosives. The night before Naritsugu is due to depart Edo (now Tokyo) however, Shinzaemon still has no plan of attack and gets a visit from Hanbei who tries to warn him off.

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Many days pass by until Shinzaemon finally comes up with a plan to turn the village of Ochiai – a destination on Naritsugu’s route – into a spot for an ambush and kill Naritsugu there. He enlists the help of Yukie Makino (Kôshirô Matsumoto) to block Naritsugu from going through his land in an effort to stall him. Kuranaga and Ishizuka go on ahead to Kiso to get the help of Makino, while Mitsuhashi heads to Ochiai to acquire the town from the villagers. The rest of the group set out, but after engaging in a small fight from some hired swordsman, decide to cut across country. The samurai get lost in a forest however and ask the help of Kiga Koyata (Yûsuke Iseya); a hunter who was left abandoned there after trying to have it off with his bosses daughter. With his help, he manages to get the Samurai back onto the road to Ochiai which is now in full preparation for the coming attack. At Kiso, Naritsugu and Hanbei have difficulty trying to go through the land owned by Makino who won’t let them pass. Naritsugu tells Hanbei to take the foolish path as he thinks it sounds more fun. Over the course of a few days, the Samurai prepare Ochiai for the attack, but days pass with no sign of their prey. A few days later Naritsugu reappears on the route, but with 200 men accompanying him instead of his original entourage. Shinzaemon decides to continue with the attack and has Koyata join his group making them a 13 strong force.

Naritsugu and his men walk into the village and  are quickly caught in the trap with some being picked off with ease. Shinzaemon and his Samurai reveal themselves and attack using a barrage of arrow fire quickly reducing the 200 men down to about 130. They then engage in close combat in a lengthy battle (lasting about 45 to 50 minutes). Slowly but surely, the 130 men are reduced down to a much smaller force thanks to the use of traps and techniques built by the samurai, but they too all begin to fall. Naritsugu and Hanbei, along with what’s left of their forces find a way of escaping the town, but are confronted by the only two remaining Samurai: Shinzaemon, and Shinrokuro. Hanbei fights Shinzaemon in a brutal fight, which Shinzaemon wins. Naritsugu then attacks Shinzaemon, stabbing him in the stomach, which Shinzaemon then does to Naritsugu, who succumbs to his injuries and dies. Shinzaemon then lies dying on the floor, talking to Shinrokurō before also succumbing to his wounds. Shinrokuro walks through what’s left of Ochiai, now mostly a burning wreck, but runs into Koyata who appears to have recovered from a fatal wound given to him earlier. Koyata says he will go back home to sweep Upashi – the bosses daughter off her feet – while Shinrokuro decides to stop being a Samurai, instead considering becoming a bandit and possibly jumping ship to America. They depart ways and Shinrokuro walks through the burning town. In the Epilogue it is stated that Naritsugu’s real death was covered up, saying that he died of illness and that 23 years later the Tokugawa Shogunate ends with the Meiji Restoration.

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13 Assassins is technically a remake for an older film, but in turn is more than that. It’s not just some crummy excuse to produce an old classic style of film produced by classic directors like Akira Kurosawa; it’s actually made to be its own independent film. I find 13 Assassins though to be something of a weird film in some of its characters. Now while it would take a while to talk about all the samurai, they are all enjoyable to watch and have their own little moments and scenes that provide this enjoy-ability. These moments though come from moments in the big fight at the end where they pretty much die but provide enough of an onscreen presence to create a coherent and important part. Then you get the higher ranking samurai to the films cast with characters like Sahara who unlike the other samurai uses a spear to a sword. He has a great presence and is one of the bunch that you like to keep your eyes on, just for being that bit different in the first place, but you still try to figure why he’s in the situation in the first place. Then you get characters like Ogura and Mitsuhashi. Ogura who joins on the behest from Hirayama to both him and Shinzaemon, but you wonder why he wants to join in battle at such a young age when he could possibly die. He does not look all that enthusiastic and a deep level of regret and shock fills him when he makes his first kill. It’s like he’s there simply because of the appreciation his master has for him. Then you have Mitsuhashi who seems to be someone relatively quiet throughout, but you feel like he should be saying more as he has something of an experienced leader in him. But weirdest of all is Shinrokuro.

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Shinrokuro is something of a mystery to me as well as a patch of irony . He is presented as a secondary protagonist, but you don’t know why as he is not on-screen all that much except when he is in battle or with his uncle or Koyata. Characters like Hirayama or Kuranaga have more air time and appeal than Shinrokuro, but why is it that Shinrokuro gets this secondary casting. From what I understand though is that he is an ironic character. He regards his life as a Samurai as something of a burden and only really uses it to get girls and money; in other words the materialization of life. He is something of a waste of his skill and feels like it was a stupid idea to go down the path in the first place, despite the fact that he is actually a great warrior. As him being the only one that survives, he gains this irony, in that out of all the warriors, it’s the one who doesn’t want to be one anymore that survives. All the others are committed in what they do, but they all pass away. Shinrokuro though does change as the fight ends, even playing with his sword and maybe seeing the attraction of it all in the first place. I don’t know really, for the most part, he is just very mysterious, and I begin to wonder why on earth he is in the film at all. Despite saying that though, he is a rather enjoyable character to watch, if not understand completely.

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Next to him there is Koyata. I see Koyata as something like the role of Toshirô Mifune‘s character in Seven Samurai. He is the group’s outcast and not actually a Samurai. He is a peek into the opposite life and enjoys what he has. He finds the other warriors to be rather ignorant and continuously challenges them on the way they behave and act. While Mifune in Seven Samurai was a Samurai from the life that Koyata has now, Koyata does not dream of being one of them, but has a desire for inclusion and respect from the others and represents the need for companionship. He is a good fighter and like Sahara, uses other means of fighting than just to use the standard issue, and even tries to confront Naritsugu………………..with Fatal consequences. It could be though that Koyata is more than human, instead possibly being something of a spirit guide to the group and a reminder to them of who exactly they are fighting for. After that there is Kuranaga and Hirayama, both of whom are similar to characters from Seven Samurai. Hirayama for instance is like Kyuzo, the most skilled fighter in the group, a man who can seemingly kill most men with one slice. He is a terrific trainer and is favorable in the eyes of Shinzaemon. There is the feeling though that he is hiding something. He is committed to what he does, but he does not talk about himself all that much and you begin to wonder what is going on. His skills as a fighter are second to none though and provides to defend those in the group and even causes a mass slaughter in his own unique trap area during the battle. Then you have Kuranaga, who I think of a lot like Gorobei. He is a rather jolly Samurai who doesn’t completely have a stern expression and tries to remain jolly in most situations. He is exceedingly loyal to Shinzaemon and remains by his side during the big battle. He also has a lot of faith and trust in his men as well as a level of appreciation and care for them too.

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On the other side of the conflict is the trio of Hanbei, Naritsugu and Asakawa. Asakawa does get a considerable amount of time on-screen despite not saying much. He is a loyal and tough fighter and is rather enjoyable as a supporting character, despite having something of a limited vocabulary. Naritsugu is a nicely and well-designed character. To begin with you don’t see him but you hear about him a lot. You get the idea that he is a truly bad man from what he has done and how people talk about him, but when you see him properly for the first time, a different perspective comes to light. Given to how he looks particularly in his age, he is something more of an ignorant and spoilt child. Because of who he is, and who he is related too, you get the knowledge that he gets whatever he wants. He is a man with a lack of Morales and is served and waited upon by others, No wonder then, that if he looks at something and wants it, he gets it, even if that means committing an act of atrocity. For the most part he is quiet, and only speaks when he wants something or to voice his ever important opinion. He is though a very good villain as you really do despise him for what he has done, but also the way he acts. There is no sense of emotion or care or sympathy for him, making his death, all be it a very dramatic one, all the more satisfying.

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Hanbei though isn’t necessarily a villain, but I think he is more the main protagonist than Naritsugu. Hanbei does have morals and understanding, that can be seen and he also has a sense of regret and disappointment as to what his master does. But on the other hand though, he is a committed and dedicated servant and so even if he has any regret for his master and himself, because he believes that a samurai’s job is to obey his master, he won’t try to stop it. Hanbei though has a much better physical onscreen presence than Naritsugu and because he is more vocal, he is a better antagonist than a supporting character. His devotion also brings him to blows constantly with Shinzaemon and is a great balance to him. While Shinzaemon is this easy-going like character, Hanbei is more frustrated, angry, and a much stricter person and is a great character to contemplate both of them.

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In my opinion though, the best character by far is Shinzaemon. Since watching this film, I consider Koji Yakusho one of my all-time favorite actors. I just got into his character and acting so much from this film.. Shinzaemon is not ruthless, mad, angry, frustrated or anything that could be seen as bad. He is actually very respectful. His faith, trust and respect for those around him is admirable and  second to no-one else in the film. He has great admiration and appreciation for those around him and believes in them enough to trust that they will do their jobs well. He doesn’t look like the kind of man who is struggling from anything except his choice of path and want of a noble death, but while he has a calm exterior, this desire takes hold very early as he jumps at what he believes is the right opportunity to end it all. For his part though, he is just generally a nice person and someone you would want on your side. He is also a strong and knowledgeable tactician, coming up with the plan of attack and a great teacher and friend too. Just from the first second he appears to his last few moments, he was just this extremely enjoyable character, and the most stand out cast member of the entire film (in my opinion).

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The film makes great use of a combination of superb editing (from Kenji Yamashita) and minor moments of special effects to produce rather interesting scenes. One of the most stand out of these pieces is an interesting blend of both of these plus some terrific cinematography. Basically, Yukie Makino is about to commit Seppuku and the shot is done well enough that you see the swipe of the sword go past and through his neck, giving that interpretation, but then it is edited as to quickly change scene so as not to see his head come off. It’s a really amazing scene and well worth looking out for. The film has some other terrific moments of effects too like the burning charging cows and the explosion rain of blood onto a building near Shinrokuro. The fight and battle sequences are terrific, and great care has been taken to make them look authentic, but also carry little touches of humor here and there. The battle at the end – lasting close to an hour – is the film’s major climax. I have seen it many times before, but am not bored once. Even after seeing the film more than 10 times over, I begin to discover moments I had not really spotted before or saw previously, and it continues to get more exciting. Seriously, a battle that long, and that small in terms of scale and size, I still do not get bored of it. While some people may consider it to be a bit long, I think it’s better for being that long in the first place instead of just a quick 5 – 10 minute duel.

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13 Assassins soundtrack (composed by Kôji Endô) is really enjoyable. It’s in a parallel style and look to the period its set in and feels similar to the themes and soundtrack of other classic samurai films. Some points give a serious note, while others are more moments of reflection. Scenes such as the construction of Ochiai into a trap, Naritsugu’s Entourage, preparing for the attack on Ochiai and the Samurai preparing to leave offer varying forms of music for different perspectives in those kinds of situation. Even the end credits continue to deliver a serious note but also provide a great score for the film to end on. All be it though, silence in certain scenes such as during the battle at the end off another perspective, therefore allowing the severity of the situation to come to light more.

Some pieces in the soundtrack I feel are a bit samey as each other, but the soundtrack really becomes its own thing when it wants too. It’s as if the soundtrack comes to life and demands attention to both the scene and itself when it wants that attention. No other piece in the soundtrack does this better than Juu. Juu is used in several occasions of high-octane action. The Samurai leaving for Ochiai, the beginning of the battle and Hirayama’s battlefield. It is by far the piece I have enjoyed the most and even listen to it when not watching the film. It really hypes up the speed, tension and is a great way to start those scenes but does no end abruptly instead continuing down it’s path until it is not needed anymore. It’s also quite dark in mood and helps to deliver the scene in the right way.

I absolutely love this film, no doubt about it. 13 Assassins tells a great story of people stepping out of the fold to deal with a terrible issue that if unresolved could mean complete and total chaos for their nation. It’s a story of unsung heroes and the monstrosities that humans can so easily become. It has great, brilliant and enjoyable characters. It features one of a kind scenes from start to finish encompassing action and drama as well as the odd moment of sheer shock horror. It boasters amazing special effects and a terrific soundtrack, all wrapped up together in a beautifully tied bundle by one of the most prolific directors to date. While there are points of weirdness in the cast, without them, it just wouldn’t be the same. Yes it’s a remake, but it’s better than most. Actually, No! It’s based/adapted/inspired from a previous piece of work, but it stands completely on and by its own merit. 13 Assassins could have just been another imported DVD film for a spot in the World Cinema section of most DVD shops, but it wasn’t. It was released outside its home nation for everyone to enjoy. Yes, not everyone will like this film. It is violent and has some truly shocking, possibly more horrible, atrocious scenes that could make some people cautious, but I stick my neck out for this film. I really do, it is a terrific film that I continue to recommend to this day. One of my favorite films to date, and will probably remain to be on my top 10 for a long time to come. I can’t stress how amazing enough this film is. 13 Assassins, at least to me, is absolutely Fantastic.

GENEPOOL





The Legacy Of Cobweb Castle – Throne Of Blood

31 12 2014

Throne Of Blood (Toho Co., Ltd. - 1957)

I’ll admit it; I don’t like the works of Shakespeare. I was spoon fed them at school a lot with plays such as Macbeth, Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. On one occasion we had to dress up as a certain character from A Midsummer Nights Dream (either Puck or Bottom for boys) and act out one of their scenes. I chose bottom and had donkey ears attached to my glasses at the time. I remember watching a film version of Twelfth Night (which I enjoyed to a point) and couldn’t find reason in what certain characters say; like a woman pretending to be a man and saying something like “If I were a woman, I’d marry you”; or another case of a bloke agreeing to marry someone he’s only just met after washing ashore on the island. In recent history, particularly at University I did some of Romeo and Juliet. Once in Foundation, and more recently in second year when we looked up different adaptations of the story; including the Baz Luhrmann Film (which on occasion has inspired me) and an excellent Dire Straits song. So while I do have the odd moment where I like the adaptations of Shakespeare, I just don’t like the original works. So I can be glad then that Throne of Blood is an adaptation.

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Released in 1957 and Directed by Akira Kurosawa, Throne of Blood is an adaptation of Macbeth. Now this is not the first time that I have watched one of Kurosawa’s adaptations of a Shakespeare play. Back in late 2012 I watched (and reviewed) the rather brilliant film RAN which is based on King Lear. Since watching Seven Samurai in 2012 I have been collecting films by Kurosawa every now and again. One of the films I most wanted to see was Throne of Blood. So last week, while everyone else was out watching the 97th Lord of the Rings film, I decided to use the opportunity to watch Throne of Blood.

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A chorus of singers sing about Cobweb Castle, a fort that once in a now desolate land; all that now remains is a stone plinth used as a memorial. Fog covers the land and the Castle appears. Lord Tsuzuki (Takamaru Sasaki) rules there and his outer forts come under siege from a traitor. His armies fight back however. In Cobweb forest, Commanders Washizu (Toshiro Mifune) and Miki (Minoru Chiaki) are on their way to see Tsuzuki. While in the forest however they hear loud shouting before encountering a spirit (Chieko Naniwa) in a little hut. The spirit tells Washizu that today he will become head of North Mansion, and then head of Cobweb Castle. Miki meanwhile, today will become head of Fort One (Washizu’s former post), and that his son will eventually become head of Cobweb Castle. Initially they don’t believe her and on their way to the castle they stop for a break. When reaching the castle they are rewarded like the spirit told them they would be. With Washizu now in charge at North Mansion, he looks forward to a life of peace and is currently happy with his due. His wife Lady Asaji (Isuzu Yamada) meanwhile likes what the spirit has said and begins to manipulate Washizu. When Tsuzuki visits North Mansion, Asaji drugs the guards protecting Tsuzuki while he sleeps, and Washizu murders him. Upon returning in shock at what he has done, Asaji places the spear in one of the guard’s hands and calls Murder. Washizu then kills the guard.

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Tsuzuki’s son; Kunimaru (Hiroshi Tachikawa) meanwhile believes that Washizu murdered his father and along with Noriyasu (Takashi Shimura), a loyal commander to Tsuzuki try to warn Miki about Washizu. Miki however does not believe Washizu would do such a thing. Washizu is made Lord of Cobweb Castle plans to allow Miki’s son Yoshiteru (Akira Kubo) to become the next lord at Cobweb Castle, but Asaji is now Pregnant, meaning Washizu will need to eliminate Miki. At a banquet, Washizu gets drunk and begins to have hallucinations when he sees Miki’s ghost. He begins to shout and act out and unknowing reveals his betrayal. Asaji tries to pick up the pieces asking for the guests to leave. A guard then arrives with Miki’s head but says his son escaped. Asaji miscarried her baby, and a distraught Washizu heads into the forest to find the spirit again. The spirit tells him that he will not lose a battle until Cobweb Castle moves. Thinking such a thing is impossible, Washizu is confident that he is invincible.

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Noriyasu’s men begin to approach Cobweb Castle. Washizu spirits the men on by telling him what the spirit told him. They all believe him and share his confidence. During the night, the men at the castle begin hearing strange noises, and then a whole flock of birds suddenly fly into the castle. Everyone thinks it’s a bad omen. Washizu though checks on his wife who has gone catatonic and tries to wash off non-existent blood off her hands.  Washizu then hears soldiers running around and sees his soldiers fleeing from their posts. They say that the forest is moving. Washizu goes to have a look and sees to his horror that the forest is indeed moving. The army of Noriyasu is using the branches as cover. Washizu’s men then turn on him, and begin to shoot their arrows at him. He tries as hard as he can to dodge them, but to no luck and eventually gets shot through the neck and dies. The scene then changes back to the desolate landscape and back to the memorial.

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While it may have been an idea, to look and see how this film compares to Macbeth, I didn’t do any look back/research before writing this. From what I know however, I can see similarities to Macbeth. Washizu is Macbeth, the forest moving and the character of Lady Asaji is Lady Macbeth while Miki is Banquo, (however it was my dad who pointed that out to me). The spirit in the forest is the strange women from Macbeth and the story is basically the same as Macbeth rising to power. The film though as when I look at it, not as in looking for similarities, but as its own standing, is quite interesting.

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The film tells a story of a man, a great soldier and a loyal commander, who is driven to insanity through the manipulation driven by his wife and later the desire to keep hold of his kingdom. The decent of this man continues as those trustworthy around him begin to split from him which eventually leads to his demise. The part of this character is played brilliantly by the great Toshiro Mifune. This is not the first time I have seen Mifune in action, and since watching Seven Samurai have seen him as my Favourite actor. He is easily the best person for the role of Washizu as his commanding and domineering presence on-screen is well done. But he can also get mad and in Throne of Blood though we see how a person descends into madness. First through regret of actions, through to desire, lust and then insanity. To begin with he is a very respectful man, he is the epitome of a protagonist, but by the end he is very much the Antagonist, and while the story to continues to revolve around him as the central character, he is now the villain and gets what’s coming to him.

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In the same league we have the character of Lady Asaji who from the moment you see her, you can tell she is not very nice. Much like Lady Kaede in RAN, she is a schemer. She has begun plans to make sure the spirits visions come true and begins the manipulation required to get Washizu to do what she wants. She wants these things for him as much as her, but likes the idea of being in control and wants her family to remain on the throne. From early on, she is a key figure and remains so until just before and a little bit after she miscarried. From the onset though, you have no sympathy for her.

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In an opposite fashion though there is commander Miki. He is a very likeable person and appears to be a true friend to Washizu and remains loyal to him until the end. While he does not understand the visions of the spirit, he just goes along with it until they become real. Miki from start to finish is a character you do care about as he has a very nice on-screen presence and is in no way ruthless, but it does become predictable what’s going to become of him.

Toshiro Mifune and Minoru Chiaki

I do feel like it is rather surprising though that Takashi Shimura does not get more of a prominent role. In the past particularly if you take films like in Ikiru, Rashomon and Seven Samurai, Shimura has had more prominent leading roles, but while he gets a good amount of screen time, I think it’s rather surprising that he doesn’t get more. While he is noticed at the beginning at the council, and then rides in at the end to bring down Washizu, it just feels like for most of it that he simply disappears. Other characters in the film such as Yoshiteru and Kunimaru don’t really have much of a part to talk about though, for the most part it’s not down to them to save the day, and it rests more on the shoulders of Noriyasu to save the day. On occasion there are other cast members of note, such as the lamp bearers and the guards that stand out, but really it feels like something of a let down from some of the supporting characters in terms of the story anyway. I do like the character of the Spirit. It’s quite an uncomfortable character when she is on-screen, but that’s probably what was meant to be. When she is laughing and cackling in the forest and you can hear that, it’s almost disturbing and scary. But when she is on her own in the hut spinning the wheel you think for a moment that she might be someone else, but then discover more. Alongside that you also have Lord Tsuzuki who for his brief time on-screen is very enjoyable, particularly at his counsel during the first few moments of the film.

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The film has a terrific setting. Filmed on the slopes of Mount Fuji, the desolate landscape allowed the use of fog which is used to great extent as it allows moments of lost and confusion while also giving moments of reveal too. When Washizu and Miki first see the castle and it is slowly revealed in the background while they talk as well as when they are lost in the fog is a great scene. The first moments too allow a reveal of the shrine/memorial to the castle and are used to the effect of showing what remains as well as the chaos caused from the events, even if they haven’t happened yet; add to that the scene of the forest moving shows a real sense of mystic energy as it makes the tree look like they are actual beings and not just men using them. Other uses of weather such as rain and thunderstorms are put to good use when used in Cobweb Forest when people are running around and when the Spirit laughs in the early moments of the film. The area of North Mansion as well as the mansion itself is actually very beautiful and shows an element of peace just in its look. Effects aren’t just limited to weather though. The ending scene with Washizu being shot at with Arrows; the arrows are real. Mifune wanted the use of real arrows (choreographed) to be shot at him to give a real sense of terror in his actions. Now while I am as of yet unsure about the one through his neck, the effect works brilliantly and is one the film’s best moments.

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When it comes to the film’s soundtrack, it’s hard to say much about it as I don’t remember many scenes where it is used. The singing at the beginning is apparent, as too is the arrival of Tsuzuki at North Mansion, but the film for me anyway appears to use mostly sounds and not much in the way of actual music. The films theme though is pretty good. While it may not be as grand in its element with other Masaru Sato pieces, particularly later ones like Yojimbo and The Hidden Fortress. The theme however has the mystery/mystic element about it before it eventually feeds into the singing but while it is certainly different, and that is the best way to describe it, it’s also very enjoyable from start to finish, even if you only here the first few seconds.

The film does struggle when it comes to pacing though. The early moment of singing, through to the Lord’s counsel of the attacks and then to the scenes from the forest to the attaining of North Mansion are very enjoyable and stand out as moments I really enjoyed. However I think the story of the film begins to get stagnant from then on. There was a long pause from when Washizu and Miki first meet the spirit, and then things really do slowdown from North Mansion onwards. The film picks up at moments though, with scenes like the horse ride chase, and scenes leading up to the banquet. But then they begin to stagnate again with points of me wondering how long the film had left (or that may have been me getting a little tired) and only picking up again as the film drew closer to finishing. For most of the film, there are some really good points and the pacing remains equal, but some scenes have long pauses and gaps where almost nothing happens for a while and this sets it off. While those moments may want to show elements of peace in the chaos, when they’re too long, you begin to notice it.

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Throne of Blood does have its issues, from certain moments of lack of cast and pacing, but throughout I did enjoy it. While I don’t think it stands out from other Akira Kurosawa productions such as Seven Samurai, Hidden Fortress or RAN, I did enjoy this, even if it is based on a piece of work by Shakespeare. It features another great performance from the terrific Toshiro Mifune as well Minoru Chiaki. While it is in fact an adaptation of a play several hundreds of years old, I think it also stands out on its own two feet as something which can be enjoyed by itself (the adaptation point does allow for some clarification if it gets a little confusing). With scenes of action intermixed with scenes of drama and great weather effects; Throne of Blood is definitely worth a watch and while it may appeal more to people who prefer drama over action, there is still something for everyone, even if the title is somewhat off-putting.

GENEPOOL





Your Choice 5: Current Results

12 11 2013

Your Choice 5

With less than 2 months to go until the end of the final film poll for a long time. I though I would put up a quick look at the current progress. . In the classics poll, 3 films currently hold first place with 20% each. They are Jaws, Jurassic Park and The Hidden Fortress with Zulu and Easy Rider not far behind. PoRe1

Meanwhile in the Future Classics Poll, 13 Assassins and Sherlock Holmes are in front sharing half the entire vote with District 9 and Welcome To The Punch holding second.

PoRe2

You may be wondering why only 5 films show in the above poll, well that is because 2 films have not got any votes yet. If you want to see those films reviewed, get voting for them now.

KAIA

With only a few weeks left in the vote I thought I would add some Jeopardy to it. Firstly the vote for 3 films rule has been reduced down to 2. So you can only choose 2 films when you vote. Secondly, I am thinking that come December 1st, I will delete from the polls, the bottom 2 films on each poll reducing the vote down to 5 films each. Which ones will it be, who knows. So, please keep voting for the films you want to win, thank you.

GENEPOOL





Your Choice 5 (Part 1): Classics

16 09 2013

Your Choice 5

About this time every year since 2010 I have given my readers the opportunity to choose a film for me to review. On the previous 4 occasions (ok, one of them was mid 2011), I have reviewed High School Musical, Cloverfield, The Host, Slumdog Millionaire and Star Wars Episode 1. Now we arrive at the 5th vote, but over the course of the series, the voting numbers have gone down and so I have decided that after this vote, I might give it a break for a year or so and then bring it back eventually (or maybe do it next year anyway if this year does well or if I want to, but more likely I will only bring it back next year if the votes from this year go up from previous years). So because of this, I have decided to do something really big this year. Classics and Future Classics. I have chosen 7 films which are highly regarded as some of the best films produced in the entire history of Cinema, but that’s not all. I have also chosen 7 films produced this current century (2000 onwards) which I think have great potential in becoming classics themselves. For this post we are going to concentrate on the Classics, check back later in the week for the Future Classics.

Easy Rider (Columbia Pictures - 1969)

Easy Rider: Directed by Legendary Actor Dennis Hopper and starring both him and Peter Fonda, Easy Rider is a road movie about two bikers going on a journey across south of America. A landmark film of its time and helped to get the wheels turning for New Hollywood Era. the film explores many issues that were happening around America at the time including Drug Use and the Hippie Movement. The film’s soundtrack is also of particular note as it used music from bands including Steppenwolf and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Easy Rider is quite possibly the Greatest Road Movie of all time.

Jaws (Universal Pictures - 1975)

Jaws: Steven Spielberg‘s 4th film as well as in many ways being the archetype film for all future Summer Blockbusters, this classic film about a monstrous Shark who comes and terrorizes a small town in America, is one of the most critically acclaimed, successful, well-remembered and much-loved films of all time. Based on the book of the same name by Peter Benchley, and starring Roy Schneider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw, the film looks to the more human side of the film than like with some other monster movies who just look at the Monster. The film also has one of the cinema’s most well known pieces of music produced by John Williams who would later work on Star Wars. Almost 40 years on since it was produced Jaws still captivates movie goers around the world and on many occasions, may still scare people into not going back in the water.

Jurassic Park (Universal Pictures - 1993)

Jurassic Park: 18 years after frightening people with Jaws, Steven Spielberg would once again captivate audiences with one of the worlds most ground-breaking, modern films. Based on the book of the same name by Michael Crichton, the film follows a group of explorers played by Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum who travel to a safari park where Dinosaurs have been brought back to life, what could possibly go wrong. With another excellent score provided by John Williams and special effects that shook up an entire industry and still to this day are pretty much unmatched in sheer scale and the experience it gives, Jurassic Park has thrilled audiences world wide and has created a Legacy that continues to live on to this day in the hearts of many a movie goer.

The Hidden Fortress (Toho Co., Ltd. - 1958)

The Hidden Fortress: From Legendary Director Akira Kurosawa comes The Hidden Fortress. Released four years after Seven Samurai, the Hidden Fortress is a classic in its own right. Starring Legendary Japanese Actor Toshirô Mifune, the film follows the journey of a couple of fools as they are enlisted by a General to help escort a princess through enemy territory. The films score was produced by Masaru Satô who in the space of 44 years working with Toho would produce 300 film scores. 19 years later the film would become a huge influence to director George Lucas when he produced his first Star Wars film, but in many a way, The Hidden Fortress is better than Star Wars.

The Lion King (Disney - 1994)

The Lion King: Produced at a time when Animated CGI films had yet to make an appearance, this animated musical would become on of Disney’s most well-loved classic films. The film follows young lion Simba on his quest to take his father’s place and prevent his uncle from taking over the land (I had to look that up as I personally have not seen The Lion King). The film was scored by Hans Zimmer, one of his earliest successes and at the time of its release became the second highest grossing film after Jurassic Park. While films of this style don’t really exist anymore these days, films like The Lion King continue to make an impact to audiences worldwide.

Top Gun (Paramount Pictures - 1986)

Top Gun: Directed by the Late Great Tony Scott and starring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, Top Gun follows Navy Pilot Maverick as he is given the chance to train to become one of the best pilots in the navy at the Navy’s Fighter Weapons school. An action film with scenes of Drama intertwined, the film is amazing shot with many amazing airborne shots as well as those that are more grounded on Earth. included with that is one Amazing and well-remembered soundtrack by many moviegoers that like the film has essences of both Drama and Action. Top Gun is a shining example of Action and Drama films but also a crowning achievement for Tony Scott.

Zulu (Paramount Pictures - 1964)

Zulu: Directed by Cy Endfield and starring Stanley Baker and the breakthrough performance of Michael Caine, Zulu is one of the great War Films. Set during the events of the Battle of Rorke’s Drift where 150 British soldiers defended their small outpost against the might of 4000 Zulu Warriors. With an amazing cast of actors, great scenes almost unparalleled to any other film produced to date and a soundtrack which consisted of both studio produced music from John Barry and the voices of the actors playing the Zulu Warriors many of whom were descendants of those who fought in the great battle. Zulu is a one of a kind film that should be viewed by all, one of the real Greats.

So those are the films of the first part of this vote to choose from. So how do you vote, well that’s easy, just choose which film you would like to see reviewed (or if unsure, you can choose 3) by clicking in the required fields on the poll and then click vote. While the poll does block previous voters, you can always get over that by using another computer, so if you really want to see your choice win, just keep doing that. The poll will be open from now until the stroke of midnight into the new year this coming December 31st. So, take a look at the choices above choose one (or two or three), and place your vote. Check back later this week for part 2, in the meantime, get voting, Thank You.

GENEPOOL





The Final Masterpiece – RAN

7 01 2013

RAN (Toho Co., Ltd. - 1985)

Cinema is filled with many great films. Films that stand out above the rest. If you were to think of some of these films you would probably think of films like Star Wars, Jurassic Park, The Dark Knight, Planet Of The Apes and Independence Day. But while some are truly Great, some are greater than others. But what makes a film Great? Is it the amount of Awards it gets? Maybe. Is it the amount of money it makes? Possibly. Or is it the experience you get out of it? Yes. What I mean is the Story, the Characters, The Music, The Direction, pretty much everything. Films like Seven Samurai, The Hidden Fortress, Rashomon and RAN, All of whom have been directed by the same man, The Great Akira Kurosawa.

Akira Kurosawa Award

RAN is the Last Great Epic of Legendary Japanese Director Akira Kurosawa. While he would make a further 3 or 4 films this was the Last Epic he made. Once again based in feudal Japan, a genre of films that he was known for, RAN was the most expensive Japanese film to date when it was released in 1985. RAN is based on Shakespeare’s King Lear, a story that I have not read, so here is a brief summary of King Lear to compare RAN to;

“The story of King Lear, an aging monarch who is headstrong old man who is blind to his weaknesses, decides to divide his kingdom amongst his three daughters, according to which one recites the best declaration of love. Goneril and Regan who are the selfish daughters of Lear who pretend to love him but later treat him cruelly. Cordelia who is the loyal and unselfish daughter of Lear. He disowns her after confusing her honesty with insolence. Edgar is Gloucester’s loyal son and heir and Edmund is Gloucester’s evil bastard son. At first the family appear to be loving and caring but this could not be further from the truth. As the characters unfold we find greed, betrayal, lust for power, and cruelty. In other words, they are anything but normal and caring. The end of the play ends in death everywhere. Regan dies after being poisoned by Goneril. Goneril stabs herself to death. Edgar reveals his true identity to his father, but the old man dies. Mortally wounded, Edmund becomes remorseful and countermands his order to hang Cordelia. But it is too late, and Cordelia dies. Lear, now a broken man, falls upon Cordelia and also dies”. – www.william-shakespeare.info 

King Lear

The Story of RAN begins with an ageing warlord named Hidetora who is the head of the Ichimonji Clan. After he has finished hunting he has an important meeting with two rival warlords, Fujimaki and Ayabe as well as his three sons. After a horrible dream Hidetora decides now was the best time to pass his kingdom onto his three sons. He gives his first son Taro the leadership position of his country making Taro the new ruler. He gives his second son Jiro the second castle in his country and Saburo the third castle each with their own men to protect them. Hidetora decides that he will stay at the first castle with Taro but in different accommodation. However Saburo is unsure about this and voices his concerns but Hidetora takes his concerns as a threat and banishes him along with his servant Tango. Fujimaki who witnessed the event however invites Saburo to into his land and to marry his daughter.

Saburo, Tango and Fujimaki

From the get go things for the warlord do not go well. Taro’s wife Lady Keade wants revenge on Hidetora and so engineers a riff between him and Taro. After one of his sons guards try to kill his fool entertainer Kyoami, Hidetora kills him with a bow which sparks issues between him and Taro forcing Hidetora to sign a pledge that he will behave while staying with his son.  Hidetora signs the pledge but decides to leave and live with his second son Jiro. Meanwhile Jiro is jealous that he was not chosen to rule overall and so makes plans of his own. Hidetora arrives and proceeds to talk to Jiro’s wife Sue and asks her why she does not hate him after what he did to her family. Jiro meets with his dad but Hidetora does not like it when his men are not allowed into the castle, so he leaves. Taro’s men take control of the castle belonging to Saburo; the men there leave without a fuss and journey to Saburo.

Jiro and Hidetora

Hidetora and his men now find themselves homeless but are met by Tango who brings food. Tango refuses to leave his master and has been secretly following him. He suggests going to where Saburo now lives but Hidetora does not want to see his son. He discovers that Taro has decreed that anyone who helps Hidetora will be executed. They decide to leave for the third castle and take it without difficulty while Tango and Kyoami stay behind. However the building is later attacked by the combined forces of Taro and Jiro. All of Hidetora’s men are killed. During the battle Taro is killed by an arrow. Hidetora leaves his castle and wanders onto the plains.

Taro and Jiro's forces attack the third castle

Jiro heads for the first castle and takes command of the first castle and the empire. But Lady Keade accuses Jiro of having his General Kurogane kill his brother. She becomes the power behind the throne, first by accusing Jiro of having Kurogane kill his brother so that he can have the throne and then threatening him to start an affair with her. She also tells him to have his current wife Sue killed. Kurogane does not agree and refuses to do the job. Hidetora meanwhile has been found by Tango and Kyoami. They arrive at a hut occupied by a blind man disguised as a woman. His name is Tsurumaru who is the brother of Lady Sue. He had his eyes gouged out many years previously by Hidetora. Tango decides to leave to bring Saburo to his father. Hidetora and Kyoami hide in the ruins of a castle. Tsurumaru and Lady Sue are warned by Kurogane that Jiro wants Lady Sue dead and so they journey to a castle that was formerly theirs and destroyed by Hidetora, the same castle that Hidetora and Kyoami are now hiding in. Hidetora descends more and more into Madness and begins to be haunted by his past actions. It eventually becomes too much to bear and flees into the wilderness and from his fool Kyoami.

Saburo Returns

Saburo arrives (one of my favourite scenes) with his army to look for his dad. Jiro does not like this and readies his army for war but Lady Keade tells him to make a truce with him. Saburo can look for his father and then leave but when Hidetora’s location is found Jiro’s gunners can kill him. Jiro goes with this plan and offers the truce which Saburo agrees. Meanwhile the rival warlords Fujimaki and Ayabe arrive with their armies sensing a major battle. Saburo goes off to look for his dad, while Jiro against the advice of Kurogane orders an attack on Saburo’s remaining forces. Jiro’s forces are decimated however by gunfire coming from Saburo’s forces hiding in the trees. If this wasn’t bad news enough, word reaches Jiro that Ayabe’s forces are attacking the Castle. Jiro retreats.

Ayabe's forces

Saburo reunites with his father. Hidetora believes he is dead but then manages to come round and reconcile with his son. They head back to Saburo’s land but Saburo is then shot. All this becomes enough for Hidetora who then dies bringing an end to the Ichimonji Clan. Kurogane discovers that Lady Sue was murdered by an order from Jiro; he goes to Lady Keade and kills her. Jiro’s forces are decimated by Ayabe’s Forces. The film ends with Tsurumaru standing alone on the edge of what was once his castle. He drops a picture of Buddha that his sister gave to him.

Saburo Dies

Ran is an Epic film on all proportions with a Fantastic Story. When you compare it to King Lear you can see the comparison plus the changes. However Ran is built more on its characters, each one having a different story, different ideas of you will. The characters elements, key story features are also represented in the scenes that they are in too.

Hidetora

The idea for Hidetora was based on Toshiro Mifune originally but the part was given to Tatsuya Nakadai who had appeared in other Kurosawa films too including Yojimbo, Sanjuro and Kagemusha. Hidetora starts off as the wise old ruler character. A very trustworthy and honest man who wants what is best for his kingdom and his sons. But as the film progresses you begin to feel sorry for him as his sons reject him. These scenes are done brilliantly and it is through how the scene is set that we can see his downward journey. So when he is a ruler he has an army of followers and a lot of respect while taking part in one of his favorite past times. But it is the scene at the castle with Taro that things go down for him. At the castle he still lives like a ruler, but when he is thrown out he arrives at what is more like an outpost than a castle. And it is through how this scene pans out that the decent is continued. During the battle at the third castle, he has gone to his lowest point yet. The scene uses great use of color. For instance, when he is at the castle it is nice and bright but after the battle with Taro and Jiro’s forces, it has gone black which plays on the mood of the film and audience which makes you feel sorry for him but also shows what has happened to him. The fire in the scene adds to this by showing the fall in his empire as it were with one of his castles now on fire as he walks out.  Music helps by providing a sorrow note.

Hidetora Madness

But your feelings toward the character change a lot though when you begin to discover his past life. When you find out what he did during a previous war, when he destroyed a castle and when he gouged out someone’s eyes. He is no longer this peaceful ruler, you start to not feel sorry for him and in a way he becomes a secondary character in the film. It is not until the end when he manages to get a pick up from his son Saburo that he manages to get out this tricky spot. Hidetora is a great example of having something one day and not having it the next. One day he is a proud and noble ruler. The next he is a simple commoner, a peasant. He descends into madness as everything around him crumbles by his own doing. He gave the power to his selfish sons, he did not listen to his son and now he is at the bottom and dies from the mental state he created and made for himself.

Hidetora and Saburo reunite

Hidetora’s fool (Shinnosuke Ikehata) Kyoami is sort of like the film’s narrator. Much like Tahei and Matashichi from The Hidden Fortress, he is the lowest character. He tells the story of the king and all the other characters through song. While he is nothing more than an entertainer and a fool, it is through this that the audience can connect and have the story told in another way.

Kyoami and Hidetora

While the three sons are similar in several ways they are all very different. Taro (Akira Terao) is as selfish as Jiro (Jinpachi Nezu) but while he is selfish and power-hungry he is a bit more peaceful than Jiro. To be fair on his part he was being tricked by Lady Keade who wants revenge on Hidetora and it is through this that Taro has a falling out with him. Jiro on the other hand was bloodthirsty from the start. He is jealous that Taro gets the ruling position and plans to take him out. He fights his father and casts out those who while helping him have worked for the opposition and cannot trust him. It is his rashness and bloodthirstiness that Lady Keade is able to tap into and give him what he wants with ease. Jiro’s desire for power can be recognised soon after Taro is killed when he immediately wears his armour and does not show respect for him. Saburo (Daisuke Ryu) meanwhile is very loyal to his father and only gets cast out when he voices concerns about his father’s plan. His loyalty to his father can be seen even more when he enters the region to look for his father after his downfall. Saburo could be seen in many ways as the hero of the story as he rides in to sort of save the day. That could also be why his death impacts the film and audience more. He came back to save the day and now he is leaving with his father which is what he wanted but deceased.

Three Sons, Saburo (blue), Jiro (red) and Taro (yellow)

The characters of Kurogane (Hisashi Igawa) and Tango (Masayuki Yui) are sort of odd but interesting to. Tango is a loyal servant to his master Hidetora and so is Kurogane. Tango is wise and so is Kurogane. They are both very similar characters, they only thing that separates them is whose side they are on. Tango is on the side of Hidetora while Kurogane is on the side of Jiro. However Kurogane is not really evil, he is just loyal but he is wiser than Jiro by far.

Kurogane and Jiro

Lady Keade (Mieko Harada) in many ways is the primary antagonist of the film. She starts off as a simple wife but later grows into a manipulative puppet master. As the film goes on you discover that she once lived in the main castle and now that she has returned she wants to stay there. So in a small way you are sensitive to her goals but not so much towards how she achieves them. So when she dies at the end it is through revenge/assassination/murder, almost a fitting end to a manipulative tyrant. The character of Lady Keade comes at an interesting point for cinema in particular. Women in cinema are no longer the damsels in distress much like they were pre Marry Poppins and are now some of the strongest characters in Cinema. Lady Keade truly represents this as both a strong woman who will do what she can to achieve her goals justified or not as well as her place in the story. She is not getting kidnapped or receiving death threats; she is giving orders for people to be executed. The idea that love can blind the truth is evident here with Lady Keade, the truth is, she wants revenge.

Lady Keade and Taro

The character of Tsurumaru (Mansai Nomura) is an interesting one. He has almost lost everything, but the ending of the film shows two possible sides and ideas to what the story is. One way to look at it is to see it as what you have. All the other major characters have lost everything. Both Jiro and Taro got what they wanted but in the end lost everything. Saburo tried to warn his father and even though he was banished he remained loyal and loved him so much that he returned for him only to lose his life and then his father’s life. Lady Keade got the revenge she wanted but paid for it with her life. While Tsurumaru has already lost everything and there he stands on the ruins of the castle that belonged to him with his life still intact. Another way to look at it is the idea of the blind man standing on the precipice. The Human condition as it were. One false move and its death.

Tsurumaru

The film makes great use of Camera work. Using the long shots and static cameras that would jump in. so instead of moving zoom shots or close ups you can get more into the shot and see more of the film. You can tell more in a film using specific shots and this film does that well. Much like when Hidetora is coming out of the Third Castle which is on fire, it is pretty much close up but then the camera retracts to reveal more. It helps to show his downfall to as he walks out of the castle as it is burning down. There are many shots in the film too particularly when the armies of Ayabe and Fujimaki you can see them on the far off mountains. While some people may see it and think of it as a back drop, I think otherwise because of the expansive region of the area. Kurosawa has shot on location many times before much like when he did 31 years previously when he shot Seven Samurai. There are also many great shots of whole armies (this is 1985, no CGI here at all). While most films today simply use CGI, you cannot beat the real thing, a whole army of soldiers, all of them real people playing the parts of these soldiers (1400 extras were hired for this film, put to Good use in my opinion compared to hiring extras and then just using them for CGI shots and as a result less realistic). What would you prefer, CGI or Real People?  

Fujimaki's Army

Filming locations helped a lot in this film. Akira Kurosawa loved using expansive landscapes and shot some scenes around Japan’s largest volcano, Mount Aso. He was also granted special permission to shoot some scenes around two of Japan’s greatest Landmarks, the castles at Kumamoto and Himeji. The third castle however was actually built for production on the slopes of Mount Fuji. The ruined castle on the other hand belonging to Lady Sue’s family were shot at the ruins of Azusa Castle.

Kumamoto and Himeji Castle

The film’s music are mostly on sorrow notes. It is not really happy music. Evidence of this can be seen during the battle between the forces of Taro and Jiro and the forces of Hidetora as you don’t hear much in the form of a battle but more of a sombre music piece. Music is more or less used as an effect to help a scene and not really as a theme. But do remember that RAN is based on a Tragedy and so happy music is not really well placed for this film and as such it is more about what happens than what you hear. But all together it is a major triumph for composer Toru Takemitsu.

It is interesting to see how much colour is used. Not just in specific scenes but also in decrypting who is good and bad. The flags that appear in the armies of the clans show it all. The clans of Fujimaki and Ayabe are white and Black and so act as a neutral colour while the colours for Jiro and Taro are red and Yellow. Red being a normal colour representation of the villains. Saburo’s colour is blue and as such becomes the colour for good. It is through these uses of colours that help to identify to the audience who is good and who is bad.

Jiro vs Saburo

Overall Ran is an impressive film and one of the finest examples of cinema in history. With a Great cast that play exciting as well as believable characters and relying on more than just the ordinary, RAN is an incredible film. It was really interesting to see how a colour format would compare for his films. Previous films I have seen from Akira Kurosawa like Seven Samurai and The Hidden Fortress were in black and white. However colour film does not take away any of the quality from his films as shown with RAN, once again it all comes down to the story. It is a definite must see. It is a film of love, kindness, disruption, corruption, death, war and the lust for power. A truly Great Film and a Great high note for Akira Kurosawa and his last Epic.

Taro and Jiro's forces with Hidetora

I suppose in a way that is another reason for the blind man at the end. It is the end of the road, the journey, the magnificent career of the Legendary Director. While this was not his last film, it was his last epic and the perfect note to end his epics on. A man who would inspire many people including Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg, Francis Ford Copolla and Me. While this is not the last time I will review an Akira Kurosawa film (still a lot more to go) I would like to end this review on one final and special note.

Thank You Akira Kurosawa

GENEPOOL








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