Thursday, August 21, 2008

Twilight Samurai

The film follows the daily life of Seibei Iguchi, a samurai with a meager salary and declining respect in his village. After going into debt with the sickness and death of his wife, he’s stuck with the tight responsibility of looking after his ten and five year old daughters and his senile mother, while maintaining his crops, crafting, and working at an office job. The samurai days are declining with the Meiji era ready to begin and Seibei is gradually growing more akin to becoming a peasant rather than remaining a samurai.

Twilight Samurai are refuses to be epic and focuses on the little things. As a historical samurai film, taking another route other than the epic isn’t entirely fresh, but it’s a nice variation. The main conflict Seibei faces is society. He has to deal with maintaining his reputation in a terrible position and the way he prefers peasantry is a unique take. The film effectively captures the constraints on family, class, money and women at the time, and the struggles for those samurai that weren’t always considered the heroes. The plot flows well with only a couple action scenes, which are built up perfectly by the character tension. There’s nothing more exciting then seeing Seibei stand off against an enemy with absolutely no idea what will happen. The fights may not be visually impressive by today standards because they are slightly stylized versions of classic, realistic swordplay like Inagaki’s.

The characters are the natural draw to this drama with an incredibly likeable lead that we view through the eyes of his proud daughter. We witness the disrespect he receives, the busy life he leads and his personal struggles with constraints on everything he does. The film is spot on with its characters, as they never act outside of their boundaries for a plot purpose. Everything is based around the societal rules and the character’s morals and it’s a wonder to see how they conflict.

Twilight Samurai is definitely a film worthy of viewing if accepted as a drama above anything else. Seeing it in a theatre is always nice, as it’s visually superb with the stark peaceful scenery and tight indoor shot composition.


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