Capsule review: Chūshingura: Hana no Maki, Yuki no Maki (1962) – the best of the 47 Ronin

Many films have been made about the 47 Ronin story. No other piece of Japanese history has been portrayed this many times in 24 frames per second and Hiroshi Ingaki’s take is one of my favorites.

Structurally and formally, it takes from other sources of inspirations and paints it in color, but has a familiar look to the Kenji Mizoguchi film. All the story beats operate in a similar fashion too, so it’s hard to not see this as essentially a remake. Mifune plays a smaller role, but the central figures are well acted and written.

The build up to the final act is excellent. The final attack is well shot and composed. Harsh lighting is the backdrop to the ultimate underdog triumph and revenge story in Japanese legend. Nameless Samurai coming together for the sake of their lord, willing to lay down their lives for this goal. In the end, it’s a militaristic experience that highlights the Japanese willingness to toss lives away during this period of feudalism. Thus, underlying a more major problem – one where lives and people are expendable and failure to sacrifice oneself for their lord, is dishonorable. A fascinating take on the legendary story of the Ronin and a beautifully shot film.


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