Directed by: Masaki Kobayashi
Starring: Toshirô Mifune, Yôko Tsukasa, Gô Katô
Somehow the modern perception of samurai is that they’re combat badasses, and that movies about them should be action-packed blood orgies. And yet, all the classic 60’s samurai films from Japan are basically period piece political dramas that end with a swordfight.
Samurai Rebellion is mostly about a woman who’s declared crazy because she has a kid by the feudal lord, but gets angry at him and refuses to marry him after he sleeps with another woman. The lord wants the kid, and the woman’s old samurai husband has to decide whether to go against the lord’s wishes and break his samurai oath, or just sit there and let this injustice happen. As you might guess from the title, he doesn’t just go along with the idea.
It’s a pretty dry drama, and to be honest, I thought it was pretty boring. Toshiro Mifune being in it helps, since he’s basically the archetypal samurai, but the conflict really isn’t that complex and it takes forever for anybody to do anything about it. I assume a lot is lost in the cultural differences, mostly because we Americans have never really had a history where we feel honorably bound to someone in power, so the whole thing just seems pretty cut and dry. Hooray for diversity!