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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.
Chushingura 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
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Top Customer Reviews
If you want to gain insight into the Japanese concept of loyalty and the price of honor above all else this is the one movie you should not miss.
The color photgraphy and scene settings are well done and sound is excellent; the acting is also very good and does not lean heavily on over-emoting that is the sometimes "norm" for Japanese films. Sub-titles are a little light, but easy enough to see and this is one of the more accessible versions (many are not available to Western audiences as more recently they tend to be done for annual TV specfials. You won't need to know the history to follow the story - or get the point.
It's a true story of a proud, old fashioned country Samurai who puts the Samurai Code and personal integrity above politics of reality. He's summoned to the Shogun's castle to do his duty - service to the emperor whole messengers are coming through the territory. A corrupt court official expects and demands a bribe to tell the Samurai what he must know of intricate protocol and is outraged when our hero refuses to bend. The official goads him into drawing his sword in the castle - a capital offense, leading to his forced harikiri - suicide.Read more ›
The first act, culminating in the seppuku of Lord Asano, details the conflict between the young lord and Kira, the Shogun's master of ceremonies, and is, in my opinion, the most interesting as it unfolds logically, tragically, and inevitably towards the spilling of blood in the Shogun's castle. Asano and Kira, at least in this stage of the film, are fully realized and three-dimensional characters, and their conflict can be understood on several levels: idealism versus pragmatism; rural versus urban; and, most centrally, a conflict between different conceptions of honor. Kira is slighted because Asano won't show him the deference he feels he deserves, and Asano cannot accept Kira's attempt to teach him a lesson without fatally wounding his pride. The characters feel real because the situation is developed so carefully, and we as viewers understand why the principal actors behave as they do.
I think the movie bogs down a bit in the second act where the retainers of Asana plot their revenge on Kira. I also feel it is at this point that those unfamiliar with this story may find it difficult to follow the plot. Like the assassination of Thomas Becket in 12th century England, the story of the 47 loyal retainers has left the historian with not only a wealth of primary documents but also of contemporary analysis of exactly how the events were interpreted. Whereas Becket's murder resonated because of the changing perceptions of the limits of temporal power in medieval Europe, the 47 ronin reflect the changing nature of samurai honor following the pacification of Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate.Read more ›
Scenery is beautiful and actors' play is amazing. I keep recalling Oishi's time at the teahouse with children and geishas when he is told of one of the samurai (his former subordinate) committing seppuku. He sheds tears yet he manages to conceal this from others! Another powerful scene is when one of samurai is attacked during the raid but saved by his own son. The old samurai rebukes the son, but then we see that he proudly smiles when his son turns away. In addition, the raid schenes have some good fight scenes as well.
As opposed to Holliwood mainstream movies, all feelings in this movie are shown somewhat "indirectly" and every scene has many "sub-contents". I highly recommend this movie to everyone who is interested in serious cinematography: you will find yourselves wanting to rewatch this movie again and again.
Most recent customer reviews
This is one of the best movies about samurais anywhere and provides a masterful telling of the 47 ronin story. Read morePublished on Dec 27 2004 by James Field
The technical quality of this DVD is dreadful. Images go out of focus, they lack detail, they show interlacing artefacts, and movement is often jerky. Read morePublished on Feb. 13 2004
I first saw this film in the 60's in a small theater over 3 hours with one intermission. I never left my seat, in fact I started out sitting in the aisle at the back because the... Read morePublished on Sept. 10 2002 by S. Dowler
Corruption and the samurai code converge in a collision when an old man who favors greed and lust crosses the road with a young noble samurai. Read morePublished on July 30 2002 by Swederunner
First off, I really enjoyed this film. Years ago, I'd heard references to its tale and always wanted to see it. Now that I have, I am not disappointed. Read morePublished on March 21 2002 by hvgutman
Here is an exquisite spectacle that embodies the spirit of bushido, newly released in stunning brilliance on DVD. Read morePublished on Aug. 17 2001 by R.L. Holly
This is a terrific epic Samurai film that takes its time telling its story, but the wait is definitely worth it. Not as good as SEVEN SAMURAI (but then what is? Read morePublished on July 29 2001 by JAVG
"Chushingura" may be Inagaki Hiroshi's best film. It is certainly his most widely known outside Japan. The film is also quite beautiful to see. Read morePublished on June 13 2001 by Michael Hinojos
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