themes

Samurai Cinema

Samurai Cinema

Samurai cinema, which includes both chanbara (action-oriented sword-fight films) and the historical jidai-geki film, focuses on the nationally mythologized samurai warriors of the twelfth to sixteenth century. Like the American western, the samurai film lends itself to tales of loyalty, revenge, romance, fighting prowess, and the decline of a traditional way of life. Akira Kurosawa’s samurai films have arguably been the most influential both in Japan and around the world; certainly the range of his approaches—from Seven Samurai’s epic scope to Yojimbo’s acidic black humor to Ran’s poetic despair—established the genre’s creative possibilities, influencing generations of filmmakers, including George Lucas and Quentin Tarantino. Key works of the genre, in its more traditional form, also include Masaki Kobayashi’s Samurai Rebellion, Masahiro Shinoda’s Samurai Spy, and Hiroshi Inagaki’s Musashi Miyamoto, the first part of his epic “Samurai Trilogy.”