The 1970s were difficult years for the great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. Having been unable to secure full Japanese backing for his epic project Kagemusha, the 70-year-old master found American support from George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, who served as co-executive producers (through 20th Century Fox) for this magnificent 1980 production--to that date the most expensive film in Japanese history. Set in the late-16th century, Kagemusha centres on the Takeda clan, one of three warlord clans battling for control of Japan at the end of the feudal period. When their leader Lord Shingen (Tatsuya Nakadai) is mortally wounded in battle, he orders that his death be kept secret and that his "kagemusha"--or "shadow warrior"--take his place for a period of three years to prevent clan disruption and enemy takeover. The identical double is a petty thief (also played by Nakadai) spared from execution due to his uncanny resemblance to Lord Shingen--but his true identity cannot prevent the tides of fate from rising over the Takeda clan in a climactic scene of battlefield devastation. Through stunning visuals and meticulous attention to every physical and stylistic detail, Kurosawa made a film that restored his status as Japan's greatest filmmaker, and the success of Kagemusha enabled the director to make his 1985 masterpiece, Ran. --Jeff Shannonfrom£3.95 | RRP:
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Kagemusha Rupert Dean
Kuroswawa returned to the Samurai genre with Kagemusha in 1980 after he secured international funding with the help of George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola. With this his first foray into colour with this genre, Kuroswawa shows off his talents with many indelible images etched on the viewers mind of calvary mowed down by gunfire, the Kagemusha in death floating past the lord's flag and the shadow warrior realising the depth of loyalty the dead Lord can still command from his sujects.
The plot follows a double or Shadow Warrior (Tatsuya Nakadai) who is a condemned thief rescued by a Lord's brother (Tsutomu Yamazaki) and thrust into immating Lord Shingen (also played by Tatsuya Nakadai)when he is killed during a siege.
The Thief gradually not only assumes the role, but starts to inherit the late Lord's character, much to the nobility's chagrin as they attempt to fool their enemies into believing the Lord is still alive.
This beautifully imagined story which unfolds in the courts, castles and on the battlefields of ancient Japan allows Kurosawa to explore the nature of loyalty and obedience, set against an almost peckinpah-esque view of changing times and the emergence of the firearm, which Kurosawa shows us to devastating effect at the battle of Nagashino in the 16th Century.
This is a true epic with a message that deserved won the Golden Palm at the cannes Film Festival. The region one Criterion 2 disc edition is an outstanding presentation of this film.
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