For two hundred years, no other story has captured the hearts and imagination of the Japanese people more than "Chushingura." When Lord Asano is forced by a corrupt lord to commit hara kiri, forty-seven loyal samurai seek vengeance. Often referred to as the "Gone with the Wind" of the Japanese cinema, "Chushingura" is an unparalleled example of the true samurai spirit.
means "loyalty," and that potent Japanese theme runs like hot blood throughout this stately samurai epic. It's often called the Gone with the Wind
of Japanese cinema, and while that may be a fitting cultural parallel, it gives an inaccurate impression of the film, based on one of Japan's most enduring and oft-interpreted historical events. A simmering, deliberately paced drama set during the Tokugawa shogunate in 1701, it centers on 47 loyal samurai who seek vengeance against the arrogant elder statesman who caused their master's ritual suicide. The now masterless ronin
let seasons pass (and the movie occasionally seems just as long) before executing a climactic raid that is both expertly fierce and lethally efficient. Featuring a who's-who of fine Japanese actors, including Kurosawa regulars Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura, Chushingura
bears little resemblance to Kurosawa's action-packed samurai classics. This is a thematically dense, politically complex drama, presented here at its fullest length (207 minutes) and best appreciated after multiple viewings. Masterfully composed with painterly precision, Chushingura
weaves its intricate tapestry from time-honored tenets of Japanese culture, offering a challenging but grandly rewarding experience. --Jeff Shannon