[ Directed by ]
[ Produced by ]
[ Cast ]
• TOYOKAWA Etsushi KANEMI Sanzaemon
• IKEWAKI Chizuru Rio
• KIKKAWA Koji OBIYA Hayatonosho
[ Staff ]
• Original Story: FUJISAWA Shuhei
• Screenplay: ITO Hidehiro
• Screenplay: ERA Itaru
• Cinematography: ISHII Koichi
• Production Design: NAKAZAWA Katsumi
• Lighting: SHIIBARA Noritaka
• Music: EDISON
[ Production Company ]
2010 SWORD OF DESPERATION Production Committee
[ Distributor (Japan) ]
Release Date: July 10, 2010
Running Time: 114 min
Genre: Drama, Historical, Feature
Screening Format: 35mm
Screen Size: American Vista (1:1.85)
Sound Processing: DolbySRD
[ Story ]
A film adaption of one of Fujisawa Shuhei’s novels about the suffering of a master swordsman whose fate takes unpredictable turns, from his Kakushi Ken (Hidden Blade) series that is set in various periods of Japanese history, on which films like
The Hidden Blade
(Kakushiken Oni no Tsume) and
Love and Honor
(Bushi no Ichibun) were based. The sword fight of the last 15 minutes is a spectacle to behold and Director Hirayama Hideyuki was determined to make it as real as possible. Sanzaemon (Toyokawa Etsushi) purposefully stabbed and killed the feudal lord’s much-loved mistress three years ago but is somehow forgiven for his crime. He is baffled and continues to wonder why he was let off when one day he is ordered by his superior to stop a conspiracy to assassinate the feudal lord.
[ Official Site ]
In the courtyard of the castle of a feudal lord is “Sesshoseki”, a show of Noh that takes as its subject the devil turned into a beautiful woman who seduces the emperor to ruin the country. After the performance, there is a moment of suspense: the vassals wait for the Lord to follow him in applauding applaud but before he starts to clap a beautiful woman who sits near. general perplexity: usually women never applaud before the Lord. But these, after a while, joins in applauding and even then all applaud vassals. A minor official, sitting sideways, looks strictly the scene.
In this dazzling beginning, no words, there is already all the history and logic of the film. From the above-mentioned scene it is in fact put forward the following points. She has great power. A woman of the era court official wife or concubine, would not applaud before her husband. This, however, believes it can violate with impunity the label. His power, we will discover little by little, due to the fact that the gentleman he is submissive, sexually and psychologically, is a puppet in his hand and senior officials around him.
Finished the show, the man and the woman, who turns out to be his concubine, they withdraw it as they pass, Kanemi, an official who sat on the sidelines, is approaching fast and, apologizing, he stabs her to death. Why did you do? Nobody understands it. Slowly it realizes that he did it to save the house from deterioration due to the softness of his lord who let the woman squandering the resources of the lordship, choking blood protests by peasants unjustly harassed. The sense of identification in the house is such that Kanemi does not hesitate to die, because death is the obvious punishment for killing the woman, for the good of the group to which it belongs. This choice is not only a strong sense of altruism but also a subjective component. Kanemi, in fact, since he lost his wife to a deadly disease, has nothing to tie him to this world, but death for a good cause, if there is an afterlife, is a way to reunite with the woman he loved.
Inexplicably, however, he is sentenced to a much lighter sentence, one year of strict house arrest, and then even reinstated in the service with an even more important task: it will even be the head of the personal guard of the lord. In fact, he is known as a skilled swordsman, known to possess a master stroke secret, precisely called “Hisshiken torisashi” (you could freely translated as “the shot dell’Uccellatore dying tip”).
After some time, a cousin who in the past had had a violent altercation with Mr. and concubine precisely because of the reckless management of the lordship, back to the court decided to take the power to save the family from ruin and extinction. Tokugawa era, in fact, the manifest inability to govern, and peasant uprisings that were seen as the expression of this inability, offering the opportunity to the central power to erase the very existence of the lordship, with the result that the house was dissolved and the samurai lost their status and became ronin .
the ladies, terrified, she runs in the bottom of his apartment and leaves Kanemi the task to stop the enemy. The duel between the two is spectacular for the absence of the typical dance style of action movies in costume and to the extreme care of the smallest details. Instead of shouts and somersaults, here are the wrists that take the sword safe, toes clawing the floor, eyes guatano the enemy, to send voltage and feeling. After a bloody struggle that leaves deep wounds on the bodies of both, Kanemi manages to kill the opponent. When about to breathe a sigh of relief, he is seen surrounded by the ladies of the guards who are ordered to kill him. Slowly, he understands, and we with him, the design of the whole affair: the intention of the Lord and his most faithful adviser, he was in fact already been sentenced to death since the moment of the murder of the concubine, but because he could esere useful, as indeed it was, to neutralize a threat to the ladies, he was kept alive. Now that he has completed its task it can be eliminated.
A film that is a masterly roles and behaviors of Japanese social life even today. Honor, loyalty, loyalty, self-sacrifice, yes, but also and above all the fact that the gentlemen (the politicians, ministers, presidents of large companies) are just symbols, often unable, spoiled and capricious; Who really governs are the senior public officials or directors of companies who go by the defects of lords and reign supreme. When there is a problem (a woman, a case of greater corruption than usual, a protest of subaltern social groups) that threatens to blow up the structure of power, political or economic sense, pushing a minor official to sacrifice taking the blame and, if necessary, to commit suicide.
Hirayama, who also created some interesting Turn (2000) and Shaberedomo, shaberedomo (2007), in this film an inspired touch. Furniture, buildings, clothes, colors of the seasons, everything is tuned and calibrated the service of a narrative alternating between indoor scenes and the scenes in the natural landscape seamlessly.
The group of actors is direct and is expressed at levels well above the average. Toyokawa Etsushi is superb in the Stoic and devoted samurai. Jun Murakami, in the role of lascivious ladies, and Kishibe Ittoku as his mellifluous and Mephistopheles adviser, are no different. Too bad the sensual Toda Naho (his dead wife) see little; on the other hand, Ikewaki Chizuru, in the role of the nephew who lives in his service after the death of his wife, best expresses his delicate and remarkable powers of expression.