a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

The Floating Castle / / のぼうの城 / Nobou no Shiro

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The historical epic, The Floating Castle, is ostensibly based on a bit of obscure fact, the 1590 siege of Oshi Castle. The way the story goes, Mitsunari Ishida’s 20,000 strong army was held off by the castle’s 500 men until Ishida diverted a river to flood the bedraggled crew out. In co-directors Isshin Inudo and Shinji Higuchi’s retelling of the story, they bring out their best Kurosawa—isms, a cast of thousands and bad (isn’t it all?) CGI to the task. After a bit of exposition about the political struggles of the epoch and introductions to the characters, the film gets down to the siege. Like Seven Samurai, a group of enlightened and skilled leaders take control. Koichi Sato does his best to channel Toshiro Mifune. Scar-faced Tomomitsu Yamaguchi kicks some serious butt. But Mansai Nomura as Nagachika Narita, the wise buffoon leader of the castle shines with a mix of great slapstick, comic timing and pathos. The whole affair is a bit bloated and overwrought – and the CGI sucks. Beyond that some moments shine.

Originally published in EL Magazine, November 2012.

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