Saturday, October 22, 2005

[DVD] Twilight Samurai (2004)

This film chronicles the life of Seibei Iguchi, as told through the eyes of one his daughters. The film starts off with the unfortunate death of his wife, and he's left alone to bring up 2 young daughters, and a senile mother, much to the neglect of his own welfare.

Despite being a lowly-ranked samurai, life is adequately comfortable, in an era of change and the coming of the end of the Meiji era. His life takes a turn when childhood sweetheart, and recent divorcee Tomoe Iinuma, re-enters his life. Protecting her from her violent ex-husband, love is rekindled between the two again, but Seibei, conscious of his low ranking status, is reluctant to declare his true feelings for Tomoe.

It's a love story weaved into a Yoki Yamada samurai movie, and somehow I can't help but to compare and noticed some similarities between this movie, and The Hidden Blade. Politics also feature strongly in both movies, as do typical samurai themes of honour, and clan hierarchy and orders.

If you're expecting to see many swordplay from the Twilight Samurai, you might be a tad disappointed. There are only 2 fight scenes in this film, one with Seibei using a wooden sword to teach Tomoe's ex-husband a lesson, and the other, a fight to the death with a clan rebel in the confines of an old house. But violence has never been Seibei's character, and fights are only seen as either a last resort (using a non-lethal weapon), or only when loathing and reluctantly carrying out orders from his clan.

This is a simple story of a man struggling with providing for his family, and the coming to terms within himself to be honest with his feelings. Only when faced with his own mortality, does he find the courage to do so. It is beautifully filmed, and is no wonder that it was garnered many awards in Japan's Academy Awards in 2004, and nominated to be in competition at the Oscars as Japan's entry.

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