SANJURO
TSUBAKI SANJURO
1962, Janus Films, 96 min, Japan, Dir: Akira Kurosawa

Director Akira Kurosawa helms this YOJIMBO sequel, utilizing Shugoro Yamamoto’s novel Peaceful Days as a model. Wandering ronin Sanjuro (Toshiro Mifune) decides to help a young samurai (Yuzo Kayama) and his brash cohorts when Kayama’s uncle (Yunosuke Ito), the chamberlain of their clan, is framed by a corrupt superintendent. Much of the humor and character interplay is based on Mifune’s scruffy appearance and the seeming contradiction – at least to the adolescent proper swordsmen – of his consummate, strategic skill. Tatsuya Nakadai is the prime adversary, a proud samurai in the superintendent’s employ who’s every bit as dangerous as Mifune. There’s not nearly as much swordplay here as in YOJIMBO – since the war is mainly one of words and subterfuge – but when the final burst of violence erupts courtesy of Mifune and Nakadai, it’s a dazzling shocker. In Japanese with English subtitles.


HARAKIRI
SEPPUKU
1962, Janus Films, 134 min, Japan, Dir: Masaki Kobayashi

An intense, intricately composed meditation by master director Masaki Kobayashi (KWAIDAN) on the war between the feudal ethos and humanity in the Japanese psyche. Recently impoverished samurai Tatsuya Nakadai attempts to take vengeance on the clan who forced his son-in-law (Akira Ishihama) to commit seppuku (hara-kiri). Using the clan’s own code of honor against it, Nakadai slowly, ruthlessly forces the film to its shattering climax. Toru Takemitsu provides the scarily dissonant score. With Tetsuro Tanba and Rentaro Mikuni. In Japanese with English subtitles.


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