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Tatsunoshi
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:55 am    Post subject: WWII Samurai Films Reply with quote
Recently I was able to watch a lot of samurai/chanbara films produced and released during the Great Pacific War (sometimes known as World War II Just Kidding). Stuff like Tange Sazen, a really strange Musashi film, The Men Who Tread On The Tiger's Tail (Yoshitsune/Benkei), and the really good ones like Dokuganryu Masamune (One Eyed Dragon Masamune, he of the Date) from 1942 and even better, Kawanakajima Kassen (1941). Considering how harsh the war economy was to the Japanese public, I was surprised at the overall high quality of the films. Many of the films had high doses of humor as well-not something you'd think would be coming out of the Axis during wartime, but maybe that was the point-to give the people some escapist entertainment.

What really surprised me was the number of extras they had available. Even with Kawanakajima being released in 1941 (before war with the US), Japan had huge amounts of manpower tied up in China. And many of the young men not in China were still in the army and being readied for the upcoming assaults-but Kawanakajima had HUNDREDS or extras, most of which appeared to be young men (although maybe this was just the visible ones in the foreground and the rest were women and old men Laughing ). Even the Date film had hordes of them in 1942 (and Japanese films of the time tended to be released soon after shooting wrapped). All in all, they were much like the samurai films of the late 50's, when 'bushido' and 'honor' were still film staples before the ronin antiheroes began to show up. Very little of the nationalist propaganda one might expect from wartime films.
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Tornadoes28
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I watched The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail last year. It is one of Akira Kurosawa's earliest films. I think it was showing on Turner Classic Movies or some channel like that. It's a very short movie, maybe less then an hour, and with a strange ending. But a very interesting film though.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Particularly interesting as I have seen the same story performed in kabuki twice, so comparing those two performances to one another, and to the film, well, I can't cite any specific differences off the top of my head right now, but, suffice to say, it was interesting.

(Remind me how it ends, that you thought was strange?)
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Maybe not so much strange. Just the way it ended with the drunken reveling.

After Benkei apologizes profusely to Yoshitsune, there's a drunken revel that ends with Benkei reeling offstage. Then it cut to Enomoto's hung-over porter who parodies Benkei as he dances off as well in a very goofy manner. And that was it, end of the film. I understand that's how the story ends I believe which doesn't mean I didn't like it. I did like it. Just the way specifically Benkei and the porter end the movie, quickly turning into drunken goofy dancers.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ah, yes. I also thought it strange how it ends that way, so suddenly, just ends.

The drinking and drunken dancing is a popular and famous part of the kabuki play, so it makes sense it would be included, but, yeah... I remember now thinking that strange myself.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Just to expand upon Meth's post, the kabuki play in question is Kanjincho (The Subscription List), one of the kabuki theater's most enduring and popular plays.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ah, yes. Providing the name of the play would be helpful. sorry.
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