So this week of remakes was an extraordinarily challenging one. We not only had to find a good movie that we liked, but we also had to find a remake of said movie that was actually good too. Which as any avid movie fan knows is actually pretty rare. My search took me all over that globe. Indian, Italian, Chinese, Mexican, American, English, French, German… I looked everywhere! It wasn’t until I dove into the world of Japanese cinema that I found something that suited me. I was actually lucky enough to find both versions of this movie very quickly. Over the course of a couple of days I viewed both these films. I absolutely enjoyed every second of both. They are incredibly emotionally gripping films. These movies both take place in feudal Japan. They center around a Samurai named Hanshiro Tsugumo. Hanshiro was once a member of a leading house in Japan. His house was disbanded and destroyed by the ruling Shogun war lord. Tsugumo had but one purpose left in life, to take care of his daughter, Miho, and his fellow Samurai’s son, Motome. Hanshiro settles in a small village where he struggles to make ends meet. Being poverty-stricken is a great shame to poor Hanshiro and through a particular set of circumstances (which I will not share because it would spoil the plot of these fantastic films) he finds himself at the doorstep of a feudal lord asking to do the only thing he feels can help him regain his honor, commit hara-kiri. For the uninitiated, hara-kiri is a ritualistic suicide performed by using ones own sword to disembowel oneself. It is better for a Samurai to do this act rather than be disgraced and in a place of honor, such as the courtyard of a great lord. Hanshiro gets an audience with the lord of the house before performing the ritual. This man of great power decides to recount the story of a similar instance that recently happened in that same courtyard. As Hanshiro patiently waits the great lord tells him of a young ronin that very recently asked permission to perform his own hara-kiri. The lord is surprised when Hanshiro decides to recount his own story as well. As the two stories weave together we begin to see what could drive a man of such strong character to this point in his life and believe me, you won’t want to blink…. you may miss something.
I truly enjoyed watching each of these films. The characters, stories, and cinematography are all top-notch. Emotion is in no short supply in these films, from sadness and happiness to vengeance and rage and everything in between, they are all present and accounted for. This is another one of those films that also feels like a lesson in history and culture. I really feel like I learned something watching these beautiful films. I believe any true film aficionado will appreciate every second of each. Please give these works of art a chance and let me know your thoughts on them. Thank you and enjoy watching!