by guest writer
Samurai Rebellion (1967) is a story developed after a novel by Yasuhiko Takiguchi. It deals with the complex feudal Japanese society of the 1700. Isaburo Sasahara (Toshirô Mifune) is an old servant samurai of the lord on the verge of retirement and having to face the decision of which of his sons to appoint as new leader of the family. The new head of family becomes Yogoro Sasahara (Go Kato), his wisest. The character construction in Samurai Rebellion is one of the best on the world cinema scene. Why? Each of the main roles are shown in a bare raw manner, with all their deficiencies and strengths. What will bring the film to its edge is the conflict between the clan and the Isaburo family. Tatewaki Asano played by Tatsuya Nakadai in one of his best supporting roles, is a character often meant to bring that feeling of balance, a real friend of Isaburo’s.
The action develops in a natural way with a soft touch by director Masaki Kobayashi, one of Japan’s unsung names in comparison with Kurosawa, Mizoguchi or Ozu. Even though the conclusion is one of the epic sort, Kobayashi’s master hand will use every cinematic tool at his disposal to transform the movie into an undying experience. The cinematography by Kazuo Yamada uses German silent cinema’s way of lighting combined with sharp angles and geometrical distances to achieve a photography which is almost lyrical. The music adds to creating the atmosphere of raising tension and even in the moments of absence it is somehow felt through the sounds of movements or even breathing.
photo: still from the film | Mifune Productions, Toho Company