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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Twilight Samurai EN Sub *Hiroyuki Sanada & Rie Miyazawa

The movie is set during the period of the Meiji Restoration, circa 1868 -the same period as Kurosawa's great "The Seven Samurai" and Edward Zwick's elegant "The Last Samurai." The three films deal in different ways with a time when samurai still tried to live by the Code of Bushido, even as they faced poverty or unemployment in a changing society. "The Last Samurai" is about samurai opposing the emperor's moves to modernize Japan; ironically, we learn that the hero of "Twilight Samurai" fought and died in that rebellion -- after the story of this movie is over. His name is Seibei/Hiroyuki Sanada, and he lives under the rule of his clan in northeast Japan, where he spends his days not in battle but as an accountant, keeping track of dried fish and other foods in storage. Seeing him bending wearily over a pile of papers, declining an invitation by his fellow workers to go out drinking, we're reminded of the hero of Kurosawa's film "Ikiru." Seibei hurries home because he has a senile mother and 2 young daughters to support, has debt after the death of his wife.
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Click on the bottom left triangle to view part 01

Part 02
Part 03


His story is told by director Yoji Yamada in muted tones and colors, beautifully re-creating a feudal village that still retains its architecture, its customs, its ancient values, even as the economy is making its way of life obsolete. What kind of a samurai has to pawn his sword and make do with a bamboo replacement? The film is narrated by Seibei's oldest daughter (Erina Hashiguchi), who is young in the film but an old lady on the soundtrack, remembering her father with love. After working all day in the office, Seibei hurries home to grow crops to feed his family and earn extra cash. His co-workers gossip that his kimono is torn, and that he smells. One day the lord of the clan comes to inspect the food stores, notices Seibei's aroma, and reprimands him. This brings such disgrace on the family that Seibei's stern uncle reminds him, "Only a generation ago, hara-kiri would have been called for." His uncle advises him to remarry, to get another worker into the home to prepare meals and do laundry. It happens that his childhood sweetheart Tomoe (Rie Miyazawa) has just divorced her wife-beating husband, and begins to help around the house. The girls love her, but Seibei is shy and tired and cannot imagine remarrying.

Director Yoji Yamada, now 73, has made at least 66 films, according to IMDB.com. "Twilight Samurai," the first to be widely released in this country, was Japan's Oscar nominee this year. He has been nominated six times since he was 60 as Japan's best director, and won once. Yet no fewer than 48 of his films were B-pictures involving the beloved character Tora-san, popular in Japan from 1970 until the death in 1996 of Kiyopshi Atsumi, who played him. Tora-san is little known outside Japan, but for a class on Japanese cinema.

Note: "Twilight Samurai" swept the 2003 Japanese Academy Awards, winning 12 categories, including best picture, director, screenplay, actor, actress, supporting actor and cinematography.

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