Apr 28, 2009

3rd May 2009; Masaki Kobayashi's Samurai Rebellion

Samurai Rebellion
A film by Masaki Kobayashi
Country : Japan
Year : 1967
Japanese with English subtitles
Run time: 120 minutes
3rd May 2009 ; 5.45 pm
Ashwin hospital Auditorium
Call: 94430 39630

It is a film of grace, beauty and fierce ethical debate, the story of a decision in favor of romance and against the samurai code. Rebellion is set in the 18th century, midway through the Tokugawa era (1600-1868). The plot hinges on a refusal. A vassal, Isaburo Sasahara (Tôshiro Mifune) refuses to submit to his lord's demand to return his son Yogoro's wife Ichi to his castle as his lady.
Masaki Kobayashi presents a sublime and haunting examination of conformity, inhumanity, and abuse of power in Samurai Rebellion. Through highly formalized compositions and meticulous, rectilinear framing - usually shot against shoji screens and visually limiting passageways - Kobayashi reflects the rigid code of conduct, structured behavior, and suppression of individual will that define daily existence under the regional daimyo of the Tokugawa shogunate in a myopic and repressive effort to exert public control and eradicate dissent.
The expansive, panoramic exterior shots contrasted against the clinically spare and isolating interior scenes that figuratively bound interpersonal dialogue further serve to reinforce a sense of entrapment and inescapability of social class: Takahashi's intransigence in accepting Isaburo's refusal of the daimyo's offer; the matriarch, Suga's (Michiko Otsuka) preemptive admonition of Ichi's expected conduct at the end of the wedding ceremony; the formal presentation of Yogoro's written request; Ichi's intolerable inquisition at the courtyard.
Takemitsu's music is only one facet of what is a very arresting film. As Kobayashi suggests, that music provides a perfect counterpoint to Kazuo Yamada's beautiful black and white cinematography. Shinbu Hashimoto, who wrote for "Rashomon" had written screenplay for this film.
In the end, Yogoro's selfless act of defiance towards the oppressive laws of the capricious daimyo forges a lonely and noble path through the dark and forbidding frontier of oppression - innately guided by the illumination of hope, conscience, love, and humanity.

( Source; Senses Of Cinema & Strictly Film School )

Masaki Kobayashi

Masaki Kobayashi is one of Japan's most outstanding post-war humanist filmmakers. A contemporary of Akira Kurosawa and Kon Ichikawa, Kobayashi's personal experience of the Second World War has marked his pictures with a deep concern for social justice. This is well illustrated by two of his most well known films, the epic WW II trilogy The Human Condition (Ningen no Joken, 1959-61) and the period drama Harakiri (Seppuku, 1962). The anti-feudal critique expressed in Harakiri is reiterated in Kobayashi's 1967 samurai film Rebellion (Joiuchi).

His most acclaimed films are unflinching explorations into the dark side of Japanese culture, the side that drove men to commit gory suicide for the name of honor and commit horrific atrocities in the name of the Emperor. Kobayashi's exacting professionalism makes his films a visually and emotionally power experience.

Born in February, 1916, in Japan's northern-most island Hokkaido, Kobayashi entered prestigious Waseda University in 1933 . Kobayashi eventually left Waseda to enter Shochiku's Ofuna studios. Kobayashi worked as an assistant for a mere eight months before he was drafted and sent to the front in Manchuria. Opposed to the war, which he viewed as senseless, he refused to rise above the position of private. In 1944, he was transferred to the southern Ryukyu Islands, where he witnessed the war's final bloody tumult. There he was captured by the U.S. and held for a year in a detention camp in Okinawa. In the fall of 1946, Kobayashi returned to Shochiku and served for six years as an assistant director under Keisuke Kinoshita.

He garnered international acclaim and a prestigious San Giorgio prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1960 for his Human Condition I: No Greater Love (1958), the first installment of sweeping trilogy about the war. Kobayashi's films brought to life by the masterful performances of Nakadai in such Kobayashi classics as Harakiri (1962), Kwaidan (1964), and Samurai Rebellion (1967).With the acclaimed Kwaidan, his first color film, he pushed this emphasis on composition with his expressionistic use of color. Kobayashi died in of a heart attack in 1996.

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