a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Saigo no Chushingura / 最後の忠臣蔵 / The Last Chushingura

with 2 comments

Longtime TV director, Shigemichi Sugata jumps to the big screen with Saigo no Chushingura. Adapted from Shoichiro Ikemiya’s 1994 novel, Saigo no Chushingura builds on the famous story of the 47 – or is it 46 ? – ronin who committed seppuku in the beginning of the 18th century. In this variation, Magoza (Yakushi Koji), the 47th, is charged with living and raising chief samurai Oishi Kuranosuke’s illegitimate child Kanon (Sakuraba Nanami). Magoza’s old bud, Kichie (Koichi Sato) stumbles across him living in the forest. Thinking that Magoza betrayed his fellow samurai, accusation, swordplay and confusion ultimately give way to truth and reconciliation. As befits a TV eye, Sugata spends a lot of time with intimate close-ups and plenty of talk in lieu of visual storytelling to drive what would otherwise be an action-filled tale. Despite some workman-like swordplay, Saigo no Chushingura founders with seemingly endless exposition and revelations telegraphed from early on. The two main leads, Yakusho and Sato – both screen naturals – work hard but ultimately fail in making this plodding epic move.

Originally published in EL Magazine, December 2010

2 Responses

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  1. Only someone spoon-fed Hollywood characterless action movies would find this “plodding”. Ironically, the movie would have been _better_ without the one swordfighting scene it does have. This is not an action movie, it is a character study, a study of the meaning of love, happiness and duty. Fantastic stuff.

    The ending is sublime in its finality and yet ambiguity…


    March 20, 2011 at 9:57 am

    • Dear GreenAsJade,

      If you didn’t assume that I was spoon-fed on Hollywood action movies, I wouldn’t assume the that pablum you prefer is cliched historical drama. I’m not opposed to those who disagree with me taking a strong, reasoned and passionate defense of their views, but you’ll never win your case by insulting someone with erroneous assumptions.

      Nicholas Vroman

      March 24, 2011 at 12:02 am

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