The samurai’s blade is his soul.
An ex-samurai warrior seeks to die performing hara-kiri after downfall of his Master’s clan and came to know about an intriguing tale of another ex-warrior who came to commit the same. Though hearing the grim tale, the samurai strongly determined to commit hara-kiri provided fulfillment of his last favor but his all three alternative favors are refused. So before committing hara-kiri, he started the life story that raises many questions about the humanity.
Director Masaki Kobayashi’s showed the grim and depressing phase of 17th century where thousands of samurais were deprived from means of livelihood and committed hara-kiri. It begins with elements of intrigue and unpredictability where narration intermittently shifting between flashback and present. And than it has mind-blowing climax. The only low side of the film is quite slow and lagging melodrama of the middle part. But that’s not the point, what is significant is that Kobayashi brought to screen the face of the samurai who’s helpless warrior hero in front of ruthless authority’s corrupt conscience. And what’s more disgraceful is that men at power failed to reflect upon even after listening the moving tale of one ex-warrior’s sacrifice and hara-kiri for family. If to go unwavering to one’s death is the way of the true samurai, than what’s code for the men at power who forced one to commit disgraceful disembowelment by bamboo sword!
The last half an hour of the film is just treat and that uplifts the whole film. With brilliant use of camera and stormy wind it creates haunting atmospheric tone to that sword duel before the unforgettable climax action. Tatsuya Nakadai, a fine actor who often repeated by Akira Kurosawa but suppressed under heavyweights like Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura in Kurosawa’s many films is the man to watch here and proves that he could be equal to Mifune if given a platform and chance.
Another Samurai masterpiece and classic from the land of rising sun.