The Loyal 47 Ronin: Part 1 / 元禄忠臣蔵 前篇 (1941)

The Loyal 47 Ronin: Part 1 / 元禄忠臣蔵 前篇 (1941)

2014/05/14 に公開
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Asian movies with subtitles!

Genroku Chûshingura
47 Samurai
Loyal 47 of the Genroku Era
Los leales 47 Ronin
A Vingança dos 47 Ronin
La venganza de los cuarenta y siete samuráis
La vengeance des 47 rônins
Les 47 ronins
I 47 ronin ribelli
The Treasury of Loyal Retainers of the Genroku era
元禄忠臣蔵 前篇
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi / 溝口 健二
Year: 1941
Duration: 107 min

Mizoguchi is best remembered for his historical and poetic epics. Films like Sansho the Bailiff and Ugetsu have helped shaped his image as a filmmaker whose talents lie in that of his virtuoso camera movements. This wasn't always the case, though, as for my money, his best work is the less expressive social dramas like Gion bayashi and Sisters of the Gion. By 1940, he was better known for the latter, though the release of Story of Last Chrysanthemums in 1939 was an excellent showcase for his talent with the camera. His next film, this two part epic, seems to have been the most visible shift in his style, taking a well known tale in Japan and making it unrecognizable through his distinct personal vision. It's an impressive film from a technical standpoint, but it's lacking in other fields.

Lord Asano seeks Lord Kira of the Shogun court for advice, but because Asano isn't aware that he's suppose to bribe Kira beforehand, he isn't given substantial advice. Upset by Kira's dismissive attitude, he attacks him, which ends up with Kira being wounded. The attempt at murder, especially against such a high-ranking official as Kira, within the court is punishable by an order to commit suicide. Asano's retainers, following the protocol of bushido and general loyalty, attempt to seek vengeance against Kira. They are surprised to find that their cause is actually supported and condoned within the system, even as those supporting individuals cannot publicly express this.

There is an awhile lot of subtext in this story, and it would be wise for one to familiarize themselves with the story of the 47 Ronin. Additionally, the film's production could also use some context. The intentions of adapting the story was definitely nationalistic, even as the end product might not have shown such a stance (more on this later) and while part one lost an enormous amount of money, the Shochiku company was pressured by the military to distribute part two. This was brought on by Shochiku's notable lack of national policy films at the time. This seems like a lot of red tape I'm going through without even getting to the meat of the film, but it's important. While Seika Mayama's adaptation of the story (which Mizouchi's films is based on) is fairly revisionist, it was still seen as a suitable source of national pride.

The film was intended to evoke bushido, "the way of the warrior" in the public and thus, remind them of their country's military that they needed to support. One can't blame Mizoguchi for wanting to ignore the military's intentions for the film, but his disinterest doesn't exactly subvert the theme of loyalty. As is the case, this film is technically dazzling but ideologically, at its best, it's convoluted. One could argue it's downright detestable, but that might be going too far. Shochiku had to make this movie or the military would have shut them down. It's odd, though, because the film itself almost made the company go out of business with all the money it lost. A fascinating film, none the less, that's a must for any Mizoguchi fan, but not one that should be a priority for anyone trying to familiarize themselves with the director.

Tag:歴史の記憶*元禄忠臣蔵*映画  comment:0 


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2011・2012この凄まじい年を生きている。幻想の世界が終り2013より今現在考えの及ばない 世界に入ると云われている。*私達の力がどれ程強いか、自己主権を持った者であり自由であるそれが現実です。意識が自由になって初めてそれが外に現れると。本当の自分を思い出す時が来た(ジョージ・カヴァシラス)