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47 Ronin (1941)

Cast: Kunitaro Kawarasaki, Kunitaro Kawarasaki, Yoshizaburo Arashi, more...
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi, Kenji Mizoguchi
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Image Entertainment
Genre: Classics, Foreign, Costume Drama/Period Piece, Japan, Samurai
Running Time: 222 min.
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English
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This title is currently out of print.

Synopsis
Produced over a two-year period, Kenji Mizoguchi's version of the oft-filmed Seika Mayama story The 47 Ronin was too big to be confined to a single film. Thus, it was released in two parts, each running between 105 and 115 minutes. The story begins in feudal Japan in December of 1701, when warrior leader Lord Asano is tricked into committing Hara-Kiri. Oishi, Asano's loyal clansman, holds the wicked Lord Kira responsible. 14 months after Arano's death, Oishi assembles 47 loyal Ronin (samurai) to exact vengeance. Director Mizoguchi abandoned his usual fascination with modern-day social problems in favor of epic patriotism (remember, the film was made while Japan was still winning World War II. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

This title is currently out of print.


GreenCine Member Reviews

Very complex study of bushido ethics by hneline1 May 25, 2002 - 10:39 PM PDT
12345678910
16 out of 16 members found this review helpful
The legend of the 47 ronin is said to be the most famous story embodying the traditional code of samurai ethics, bushido. In Japan, there is a famous Kabuki play about it and people still visit the grave of the 47 to pay homage.

Director Kenji Mizoguchi's b&w 1941/1942 adaptation is an outstanding work conveying the complexity of the bushido code and the 18th century societal class that embodied it. After Lord Asano is forced to kill himself, we follow Oishi, his chamberlain, as he tries to redeem Asano's honor and fulfill his own loyalty by avenging his dead master. He must figure out a way to do this within the bushido code, despite political intrigue and the wishes of more hot-headed followers and the suffering of his family. By following the strict ethics excellently, Oishi and the other ronin are lauded, even as they themselves are required to commit suicide for their act of vengeance.

Be warned, this is not an easy movie to understand without some background into the culture of the times, but for those with patience, it is fascinating and rewarding. The drama is intense and the layers of machinations and intent are mesmerizing. There are several subplots and each character has amazing depth, such as the fiance of one of the 47 who disguises herself as a boy to find the condemned man and desperately asks him why honor is so important that he would kill himself for it, or Oishi's loyal wife who asks for a divorce so that he knows that his wife and younger children will be protected from any repercussions for his actions. Also, to put the film into historical perspective, it was made at the beginning of World War II with the hope that it would inspire the Japanese people... scaaaaaary.

Very unfortunately, the image quality is not good and the soundtrack is uneven. More unfortunately, the English subtitles miss many subtleties, although it's good enough to follow the story. Despite these flaws, this film is definitely worth watching if you are interested in international cinema or Japanese culture.

This title is currently unavailable on disc or is no longer in-print.

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GreenCine Member Rating
12345678910

(Average 7.24)
46 Votes
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Classic Samurai and Bushido
12345678910
Classic films that all samurai buffs should watch. There are more but these are the best ones in this catalog--not a bad start.
hneline1

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