Friday, February 23, 2007

Samurai Thought for the Day #2

A lot of samurai pictures take place right before or during the Tokugawa period (1600 to 1867). The ukiyo-e print above depicts a much earlier period from the Heike war (1180s). The top image reminds me of the screen shot I posted at the beginning of the samurai posts, which was from the interestingly staged film, Kwaidan. Aside from Kwaiden and Men Who Tread the Tiger's Tale, I'm hardpressed to think of other films that cover this same earlier period. I'm positive they exist - just maybe harder to find on DVD in the U.S. - there's just too much material for film-makers to resist - great sea battles, lots of juicy politics, moving child emperors to and fro, armies pillaging Kyoto. More films about this era need to be accessible to American audiences!

Samurai works in process:

I'm still working on something for Inagaki's 1969 film, Samurai Banners. This film doesn't get a lot of attention, but it's damn good. I'm not sure what the secret Brotherhood of Asian Cineastes would say - but Inagaki is a top tier Japanese director - up there with Kurosawa and Ozu - even if he is more of a studio workhorse. And Toshiro Mifune is excellent. The style of Samurai Banners is completely different than the 1970 Inagaki/Mifune film, Incident at Bloodpass.

I'm also tempted to post something on Samurai Spy - which I recently saw and found very entertaining, if the ninja dressed in white did look a bit silly.

I'd mentioned before about doing some posts on Kill!, Sword of Doom, and Harakiri. But I'm not sure I will cover all those and might save a couple of them for a later date. Nor will we be touching on Inagaki's great Chushingura or any of the 47 Ronin remakes. Those I may save for The Loyal 47 Month! They are all classic movies and deserve attention - but this samurai month is simply not intended to be comprehensive. Or if it was, then I am losing the steam to see it through. And we mustn't forget Samurai Month 2008, right?

Anyway, there should be a few more posts going up this weekend.

Until then, here are a couple of other ukiyo-e prints for this site:

One from the Set of 108 Heroes of the Suikoden Series (ca 1827)

Chûshingura, the Treasury of Loyal Retainers:
The People Involved in the Night Attack (1845-186)

1 comment:

phyrephox said...

I believe Shinoda's ONIBABA takes place during the Heike period...