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The mother of a feudal lord's only heir is kidnapped away from her husband by the lord. The husband and his samurai father must decide whether to accept the unjust decision, or risk death to get her back. [source: IMDB] Add Synopsis In Portuguese
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Set in the peaceful Edo era, the film is a human drama instead of a straight chambara (swords play) film like the title displays so do not expect heads rolling and straightforward Samurai action the whole time. Once again, Kobayachi harshly criticize the ancient Japanese feudal system and the Bushido codes of Samurai honour that requires blind loyalty.
Screenwriter Hashimoto (Kurosawa’s regular) did a magnificent job with the story’s shades, turns and flashbacks in a way that would make you anticipate the developments of the story; it may feel slow paced at times but that’s the usual Kobayachi way of building strong tension to end it with a blow; heroism was created little by little until it reached the end. The term “Rebellion” isn’t exactly what you think when reading the title, it’s not the story of a samurai establishing justice or honoring his lord, this is the story of an elder samurai’s own codes of honour to help his son and daughter-in-law through the injustice caused by their clan’s lord and the closest higher-ups. Instead of blind loyalty and accepting unfairness without asking questions, they decided to go against their feudal lord, the system and the world they live in.
Samurai Rebellion is also viewed as a family drama with many displayed emotions and connections. It also contains the most touching romantic story I’ve ever seen in any Samurai film; the sacrifices, the mutual understandings and the painful injustice leading to separation. However, that doesn’t deny the presence of action especially at the end. The dual and the fight sequences were splendid considering the fact that they were used to get all of that intensity that’s been constructing during the whole film. It made the perfect finale of the film.
Is it really necessary to talk about acting? It’s Mifune Toshiro, the legendary best actor Japan ever knew and one of the better actors in the world; people usually know Mifune in Kurosawa’s films where he always shined but let me tell you, Mifune’s performance with Kobayachi was one of his finest works ever; he did a flawless job with the character of an elder samurai who built a hero out of himself to confront injustice. There’s also Nakadai Tatsuya, the second Japanese legend. Although he was only a supporting role, he delivered so well and I must say that I completely loved his character that sounded mysterious; he was someone who had to be torn apart between his greed to be the best swordsman in the clan, to be a friend or to serve his lord according to the samurai codes of honour. Someone else deserve all the praise is Tsukasa Yoko, she had one of the strongest female performances I’ve seen in the golden Japanese cinema. Her character Ichi was also one of the better female characters displayed in Samurai films.
The black and white cinematography was top-notch just like the camera angles and the smooth close-ups because Kobayachi is a masterful director after all. What also should be highlighted is the superb music choice to empathize the emotional involvement.
-You like Samurai films.
-You want to discover old Japanese films.
-You like Toshiro Mifune because this is one of his better works.
-You like Masaki Kobayachi’s way of making films.
Do not watch if:
-You dislike old films (black and white).
-You dislike Samurai films.
Samurai Rebellion is a timeless Kobayachi masterpiece that defies the usual definitions of samurai codes of honor in the most brutal tragic way.
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