Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Hidden Blade

This movie called Kakushin Ken Oni No Tsune in Japanese. It's directed by Yoji Yamada who also directed Twilight Samurai.

The movies are both based on the novels of Shuuhei Fujisawa. I have not been able to find out much about the author, except indirectly. It seems that he wrote his novels all focussing on a certain time period (late Edo or early Meiji Restoration era of Japan) and the stories focussed on the regular samurai's life.

The heros of Twilight Samurai and The Hidden Blade are not the scenery chewing, loud samurai characters like the ones typically portrayed by Toshiro Mifune. They are quiet and reserved. Living lives of quiet determination. Stoic, not fatalistic.

From checking out the making-of and the interviews of Yoji Yamada, he's clearly taken by this era. Great care has been taken to reproduce the period 'look' like clothing, utensils and houses. He has a affinity for some really cool shots which look like paintings brought to life (eg. Woman under a tree on the foreground, the sea shore in the far distance). He also 'holds' scenes effectively and lets the silence tell the story.

Silent Blade's main character is Katagiri Munezo, who's a low-level samurai. The movie revolves around him, his friends and his family. As in Twilight Samurai, we can hear the echoes of history. The clan has requested an instructor from Edo to come in and teach them to use artillery and drill them in modern european military training.

This movie has some interesting continuity with Twilight Samurai. The same actor who played Seibei's servant plays Munezo's servant and has the same name in the movie. Munezo's teacher is again a Toda Sensei.

I really liked the interactions between the characters and the kind of quiet heroism portrayed in the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and would highly recommend it.