"Family Transcends Culture"
What You Need To Know:
THE TWILIGHT SAMURAI is clearly set in a Buddhist worldview, but the humanity, morality, and dignity of the hero and his family come through so strongly that the movie almost transcends this theological problem. Hiroyuki Sanada is brilliant as the humble, compassionate samurai Iguchi. Iguchi’s story unfolds magnificently in the hands of director Yoji Yamada, whose career goes back to 1954. Iguchi is clearly a moral man, despite the cruelties and harsh realities of Japan’s feudal, Buddhist society. His love and concern for his daughters and for his friend’s sister are inspirational and emotionally powerful.
(PaPaPa, BB, L, VV, AA, M) Very strong Buddhist worldview with some references to Buddha by minor characters (they say “Rise to Buddha” to dead corpses killed by famine) and some references to Heaven (one character says, “May you eat your fill in Heaven” to spirit of dead corpse) and Confucius, mitigated by strong moral elements, including a pro-family viewpoint and an implied attack on the authoritarian culture of feudal Japan; seven light obscenities; strong action violence in one sequence where men have tough swordfight in enclosed space, and they bleed after being wounded and images of several corpses (one of which has many flies buzzing around it, but nothing very gruesome), plus man defends himself with stick against swordsman in duel, samurai practice shooting rifles, drunken man pushes family around, and talk about ex-husband having beaten his ex-wife, the reason for their divorce; no sex or nudity; alcohol use and drunkenness; and, authoritarian Japanese caste system during feudal time.
GENRE: Period Drama/Samurai Film
THE TWILIGHT SAMURAI is a beautifully realized picture from Japan. It was nominated for Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2004, but lost out to THE BARBARIAN INVASIONS. The movie is clearly set in a Buddhist worldview, but the humanity, morality, and dignity of the hero and his family come through so strongly that the movie almost transcends this theological problem.
The story is about a humble, low-ranking samurai in a northern province, just before Japan’s civil war in 1868, which eventually ushered in the modern age in that country, much in the same way as the American Civil War did in the United States. Iguchi has just lost his wife to consumption and has to raise his two young daughters alone. His wife’s rich family forced him to pay for a funeral beyond his means, so Iguchi struggles desperately to make ends meet. The other samurai make fun of him, because Iguchi must help his daughters with the field work and house work, and the rigors of that work, plus his job keeping inventory for his master, leaves him little time to take care of himself like he should.
One day Iguchi meets a childhood friend and hears about the friend’s sister, Tomoe, whose cruel husband is such a drunkard and wife-beater that she had to divorce him and move in with her brother. Tomoe begins visiting Iguchi’s house and helping his daughters after Iguchi knocks her drunken ex-husband unconscious when the lout challenges Iguchi and the brother to a duel. Iguchi’s poverty and political strife within his clan threaten to part the two lovers forever.
Hiroyuki Sanada is brilliant as the humble, compassionate samurai Iguchi. Iguchi’s story unfolds magnificently in the hands of director Yoji Yamada, whose career goes back to 1954. Iguchi is clearly a moral man, despite the cruelties and harsh realities of Japan’s feudal, Buddhist society. His love and concern for his daughters and for the beautiful Tomoe are inspirational and emotionally powerful. Their poignant story often brings tears to the eye. THE TWILIGHT SAMURAI may be the best samurai movie in years.
Do you enjoy articles like this?
Click here to become a monthly partner and receive a movie for free!