The Loyal 47 Ronin

The 47 Loyal Ronin Kazuo Hasegawa, Shintaro Katsu, Kōji Tsuruta, Raizō Ichikawa, Machiko Kyō, Fujiko Yamamoto, Michiyo Kogure, Chikage Awashima, Ayako Wakao, Yatarō Kurokawa, Eiji Funakoshi, Eitaro Ozawa
As part of the JAPANORAMA feature I am inviting fellow movie sites to join in. This post is from Michael over at It Rains… You Get Wet (a sweet Heat reference). The site is full of great articles, although I particularly like the TMT series of posts, which are great pieces of cinema nostalgia – and make me wish that I could visit such grand cinemas in their heyday. You can also follow Michael on Twitter @le0pard13.
The Loyal 47 Ronin (忠 臣蔵 Chushingura) (1958), directed Kunio Watanabe, is based on a historical event that occurred in early 18th century Japan. In that ancient land, it’s the national legend typifying the samurai code of honor, bushidō. I daresay, few westerners before World War II knew of it. Of course, after 1998 that number went up significantly with John Frankenheimer’s espionage-thriller Ronin, which used the famed tale as allegory to its own. Its summation works well here, “Forty-seven samurai, whose master was betrayed and killed by another lord. They became ronin – masterless samurai – disgraced by another man’s treachery. For three years they plotted, pretending to be thieves, mercenaries, even madmen – that I didn’t have time to do – and then one night they struck, slipping into the castle of their lord’s betrayer and killing him.” Essentially what transpires in this film and all the other versions of it (there are a lot). Beautifully shot in widescreen, and considered by many scholars to be the most accurate and best, it’s stage heritage does keep it bound some. But as a timeless yarn of honor and revenge, it doesn’t get any better than this. Shogun Assassin fans should stay far far away, though, as the film’s almost three-hour runtime is its own test of loyalty.
  1. Thanks so much for the shout-out and invitation to join in on this wonderful series, my friend.


    • Paragraph Film Reviews said:

      No problem, and thanks for the review. Didn’t have this on my list, but I know all about the story after hearing the ‘Stuff You Should Know’ podcast on Samurai. Film sounds good, so I’ve stuck it on my LoveFilm list.

      Thanks again, and if you want to submit another later, door’s wide open.



  2. Reblogged this on It Rains… You Get Wet and commented:
    Paul has a great thing (impassioned one-paragraph film reviews) going over at Paragraph Film Reviews. His JAPAN-O-RAMA series generously allowed for guest contributions on a longtime favorite genre of mine. The cinema of Japan. Today, I got a chance to do just that. I hope you check out his site and this series.


  3. Novroz said:

    Nice short review Mike :)
    I haven’t seen it yet but I have read one version of the book. It’s a very fascinating history. 3 hours is quite long…I have never watched anything that long except for lord of the rings.

    Anyway…what do you think of the upcoming 47 ronin? Although I like Keanu but having western in old history of Japan is a bit weird.


    • It is fascinating history, alright. No wonder it has endured. I think this makes the third version of the story I’ve seen. The next one up will be the 47 Ronin (1996) with a fave actor Ken Takakura.

      Yes, I see your point re: the newest production of the tale. However, given the history of successful western remakes of samurai films (The Magnificent Seven, A Fistful of Dollars, etc.) it has promise. What’s worrisome, hasn’t the production been delayed?

      Thanks, Novroz.


      • Novroz said:

        Yes it is :(
        I hope they won’t delay it again after this


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