Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bushi no Ichibun (Love and Honour)

This is the third movie in Yoji Yamada's series of samurai movies. The other two being Twilight Samurai and The Hidden Blade .

In Love and Honour, Shinnojo a young samurai, who is the official taster for the daimyo is blinded after eating poisoned food. This puts him at the threat of losing his stipend and driving him into penury. His family pressures his wife Kayo to try and convince a high official who she has a passing acquaintance with to intercede on his behalf. The movie deals with the repurcussions of that action.

The movie follows in the style and tone of the other two. The focus is on the couple and their relationship. Shinnojo, like the protoganists of the other two movies, is not terribly enamoured with the samurai lifestyle. He would like to open a school so that children of all castes, not just samurai can learn swordsmanship.

Even though the three movies have no story arc joining them, they are stylistically connected. They all follow lives of "ordinary" samurai, and focus on their relationships. They are not about pomp and ceremony, like say Ran, or Throne of Blood or swashbucklers like Yojimbo or Sanjuro. The heroes are undemonstrative anti-Mifunes and there are no scenery-chewing histrionics.

The movies are shot with great care and adhere to using authentic period clothing, utensils and activities. The director composes some shots like photographs. Just letting it linger for a few more moments than might be considered strictly necessary. There are scenes (like Iguchi Seibei eating breakfast before going out for the day) which are again, not really required for the story but really adds to the mood. The movies and the heroes project a feeling of quiet and calm. The music is pretty good and really goes along with the action.

I guess it is pretty obvious by now that I utterly enjoyed all the movies. I very highly recommend them.