Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Takashi Miike's Death of a Samurai (一命)

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

I've seen it twice now, and maybe it's because it's fresh in my mind, but I think it's the best movie of the 21st century. It's very sad, depressing even, but it is amazing in both viewpoint and style.

In the widest sense, it's a cutting critique of the hypocrisy of the feudal/cast system. If you've seen The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise, this is basically a masterful demonstration of that movie's utter idiocy.

And that's just the content, the minimalist, realist style is what's really amazing about it. I think a lot of people would call it naturalistic, but I don't think it is. The symptoms of naturalism are there, but not the essence. The essence is pure realism, even subtly optimistic at times.

I really hope someone else here has seen it. I'd love to talk about it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're referring to "Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai" done by Takashi Miike?

Yes, but I hate the word hara-kiri, so I skipped it. The orginal title is 一命 (read ichimei).

Whoever came up with the English title misrepresented the movie. It's not an action movie, and it's not about ritual suicide.

Edited by Nicky
Link to comment
Share on other sites

一命 translated to: n. (Hira=いちめい) life, state of being alive

That is more in alignment with the ending of the movie provided by Kageyu who best exemplified the bushido or code of the warrior in this feature. During times of peace that warrior class often became soft and strayed from the tennants of the code. The feudal/caste portrayal between the two movies are from two different eras. This film painted a much darker side of it.

I just noticed, there is a 1962 version in addition to the acquired remake in 2011.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just finished watching the remake. It was really, really good- except for the ending. The clan learned nothing! It's so frustrating..

I really want to see the original. After reading about it on wiki, it seems like a lot of changes were made in the remake. Don't want to include any spoilers, but I think the original will have more to offer (ie: we find out what happens to Miho and Tsugumo's fate is more noble).

 

What did Tsugumo mean when he says "pathetic" after the clan leader tells him Motome's story? Does he say "pathetic" because Motome was doing the suicide bluff, or because Motome had no other options?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The movie was well done. Being something of a Japanophile, I loved the scenes. My house basically will look like something out of one of these movies when Im done. However, I just cant stand sad movies. Something in me revolts at movies that dont depict a hero overcoming adversity. I cant understand why someone would spend so much time on the bad parts of life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, to quote a Democratic senator's recent excuse about why the Benghazi mess should be overlooked, death is a part of life. Acknowledging it isn't what's anti-life, celebrating and seeking it is.

There is a lot of beauty in sadness and death, and the Japanese are especially adept at finding it. The movie isn't anti-life, it doesn't celebrate death in the modern western tradition. The heroes don't seek death in any way, in fact they fight very hard to avoid it. But when they do have to die, they die beautifully.

I hate movies that celebrate death and glorify misery too. This one didn't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Plasmatic asked: [W]hy [would] someone would spend so much time on the bad parts of life.
Nicky had said: The essence is pure realism, even subtly optimistic at times.
 

The Japanese tea ceremony, flower arranging, bonsai, martial arts training all have a high degree of focus on realism. The flowers are painstaking set to look like they are in nature, in a room to just blend in with the setting so to speak. Bonsai are carefully tended to look like a windswept tree on a mountain top, or a glade of trees one might come across in a meadow. The tea ceremony and martial arts training look to eliminate wasteful movement  in the pursuit of their craft.

 

The bad aspects of life depicted in the movie helps to bring Kageyu's integrity to the forefront, especially in his last fight. He too, goes to the house of Li(?) armed with only a bamboo sword. He dealt with the houses act by only taking the topknots of the principles involved. In the end, his story does not move the members of the house (save the three principles who committed suicide, presumably out of shame) as mdegges points out.

 

But the fight was choreographed where when Kageyu was fighting with a bamboo sword, his skill (being synonomous with integrity here) was such that he disarmed several of them, and they would back off when he lunged in their direction. It was only via a series of superficial cuts, that in the end, added up to undermine and finally weaken him to the point where he could fall victim of their sword.

Edited by dream_weaver
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can you guys recommend any other must-see Japanese movies?

I'll start with anime, because lately some of the most amazing Japanese movies are actually anime:

Ghost in the Shell is an amazing sci-fi movie (probably the most meaningful sci-fi I've ever seen), the sequel by the same director is also good (more self indulgent than the original, but still good).

Paprika is amazing, and it's a romantic comedy. If there's just one you see, this should be it. Perfect Blue, by the same director (Satoshi Kon), is a great thriller.

The Girl who Leapt Through Time (the anime, I haven't seen the live action, and I also haven't read the novel) is a fun sci-fi/romantic comedy as well.

As far as live action, I'm not exactly an expert, I mostly just watch modern thrillers and action movies, so I'll just recommend some of those. I've seen some dramas and classics, but not enough to form an opinion on which are the best. That said:

13 Assassins is a good one, also by Miike. It's much more dynamic and more of a conventional samurai movie than this one.

There's of course Battle Royale, which is the premise of The Hunger Games, but done right.

A couple of other, less high brow (have a more pop, B movie feel to them) ones I liked are Confessions (a fun revenge thriller), a supernatural thriller called Death Note (but only the first two movies, the third one is horrible), and Ryuhei Kitamura's Azumi (which is really just a flashy action movie, but well done - in fact it was well done enough that it became a cult hit internationally and got Kitamura a shot to direct in the US).

P.S. Btw., regarding Death Note, it's a manga that was first made into an anime TV series. And the first season of that TV series is probably the best anime series that ever aired on Japanese television. As a consequence, it has a lot of fans, and they will all tell you that the movies, which were made later, suck. But they don't, the first two movies are very good and have a better ending than the anime. They're well worth watching.

Edited by Nicky
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Definately not saying it was anti-life. There are lots if things that are part of "life" not worthy of concretizing in art given a proper standard. Im very familiar with the philosophy behind Ikebana and bonsai not to mention the art of the japanese garden. Like I said my entire property will look like a 4 acre scene out of the period depicted. (just bought 23 Japanese maples (momiji) for that purpose.

Was just mentioning my own sense of life response to a failure to triumph/overcome adversity.

Edited by Plasmatic
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is a whole bunch if Zatoichi films by various directors to check out. As I mentioned , The Hidden Blade and Twilight Samurai (with Hiroyuki Sonata) are very good. One might like Shogun as well.

Im looking forward to the next Wolverine. It depicts the story of Wolverine when he was in love with a Japanese woman and I assume the Silver Samurai.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks! I will definitely check those out. As far as anime I've only seen Death Note (loved it) and Fruits basket (which is pretty cute when you're a teenage girl, but not very deep). Dragonball & DBZ have been recommended to me countless times but I just couldn't get into the storyline.

 

Edit: One movie I wanted to mention is a Chinese romance called The Road Home. It's a little slow moving at first, but it's absolutely stunning. Definitely on my all-time top movie list.

Edited by mdegges
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks! I will definitely check those out. As far as anime I've only seen Death Note (loved it) and Fruits basket (which is pretty cute when you're a teenage girl, but not very deep). Dragonball & DBZ have been recommended to me countless times but I just couldn't get into the storyline.

There's always Code Geass, and Full Metal Alchemist is another. Not movies, but anime may as well be a movie. I'd second Paparika, it's a rather peculiar examination of consciousness. Akira is about consciousness as well.

 

And of course, every single Miyazaki movie.

 

Off topic, I know, I should certainly see the one the thread is about. >_>

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, but I hate the word hara-kiri, so I skipped it. The orginal title is 一命 (read ichimei).

Whoever came up with the English title misrepresented the movie. It's not an action movie, and it's not about ritual suicide.

I agree that this is a great movie.

It is perhaps the most perfect movie I have seen.

I would disagree with you somewhat though, Nicky, on your aversion to the English title.

If you'd care to know my take on it let me know and I'll PM you- I don't want to put spoilers on the page.

While the movie is very sad in places I don't see it as overall negative. Most of the point here is that death is not the worst thing that can happen.

When the worst things happen and you maintain your integrity through it, you win, no matter what.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...