Friday, November 16, 2012

SWORD OF THE BEAST (Japanese) (1965)

‘This mountain is dwelling for beasts. I’ll turn into wolf too before long and take my share of that almighty gold.’

Watching this third Gosha film, I tried to absorb the outcast samurai characters of his films who managed to get away from system. Unlike those heroic self sacrificing samurais for their clan, they chose their own personal codes of honour when realized how they’re blindedly betrayed by hypocrite power. And so they chose their own destiny to regain their own pride. They’re the outlaws embracing rebel against distrustful authority. That happens with Nakadai’s character in ‘Goyokin’ and also in ‘Three Outlaw Samurai’. The men of Gosha films are outlaws against the corrupt power hegemony, this film too pointed out that message quite loud and clear. 

The initial impression of Samurai Gennosuke Yuuki is labeled as coward samurai, he’s fugitive ronin without code who’d killed counselor of the clan and fled to his home province. Dead Counselor’s daughter and fiancé along with other clan members are in pursuit of him. Geenosuke’s samurai pride is questionable as he said while escaping ‘To hell with name and pride…I’ll run and never stop.’ Now this instantly questions us about his pride and way of samurai. We doubt- ‘If he used to be brave earlier how could he become so coward!’ There’s bounty on his head and what we follows initially is cat and mouse play.

As movie progresses we witness his victimized past and how he turned out as rebel. How against selfish and biased leader’s unjustifiable orders he become a scapegoat of another clan leader and got cheating returns. He’s just served as fooled minion like so many others who turned out scapegoats at the end. The selfish clan leaders keep climbing their ambitious political and economical gain with their under ranked samurai’s hardships and sacrifices and in return reward them with deceit and death. As Gennusuke along with a helping stable owner plans to check out the prospect of gold on mountain, he encounters number of bandits and a deadly warrior named Jurota who’s already involved in poaching of gold and started collecting it for his clan. Just like Gennusuke, he’s trying to regain his pride by dangerous adventure and in return gets victimization.

At many moments the film keep reminds me about Huston’s masterpiece ‘The Treasure of Sierra Madre’. Like that noir, the film focused on blind ambition, greed, hatred that maligns the conscience of even upright men. But Gosha’s film portrayed the ugly face of power in form of clans and leaders and the plight of samurai facing the lonely frustration of being nobody. He’s valiant hero who in order to prove his existence  and honour to be a full fledged samurai rewarded being cheated by hypocrite leaders. The film is surely Gosha’s best and it is finely shot black & white cinematography with subtle balance in framing and composition of image. The aesthetic refinement is constantly challenged by sword action and intriguing of plot and characters.

Highly recommended.


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