Sunday, May 16, 2010

#14: Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto

(Hiroshi Inagaki, 1954)

It took a minute for me to get who the characters were in this first installment of the Samurai trilogy, but once I did, the film became quite enjoyable. The story is often called the Gone with the Wind of Japan, but that seems a little inaccurate. I'm glad it does, too, as I think Gone with the Wind is one of the most overrated movies ever.

But the movie is definitely Western in its approach to the material. The final scene on the bridge was almost shockingly reminiscent of Hollywood melodrama, and the cinematography is washed in Technicolor to almost Sirkian levels. It's funny to think that people would complain that Kurosawa is too Western when a film like this is out there.

I have two more parts to watch, so I will save my judgments of the storyline. But I will say that it's clear the film (and its source material) were a huge influence on future samurai films, most notably Onibaba and Seven Samurai, so I am happy to have seen it.

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