Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Alternate title: Kagemusha: The Shadow Warrior
Japan, 1980. Kurosawa Production Co., Toho Company, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Screenplay by Akira Kurosawa, Masato Ide. Cinematography by Takao Saito, Shoji Ueda. Produced by Akira Kurosawa. Music by Shinichiro Ikebe. Production Design by Yoshiro Muraki. Costume Design by Seiichiro Hagakusawa. Academy Awards 1980. Cannes Film Festival 1980. Golden Globe Awards 1980.
Beautiful war epic by Akira Kurosawa that runs a bit too long in the last third but is still up there among his finest works. After the death of a powerful warlord in medieval Japan, a recently abducted thief who bears an impressive resemblance to the deceased is forced to impersonate him and lead the kingdom to further victories. This should be an easy enough job, but the impostor finds himself being overtaken by the spirit of the great conqueror, and undergoes a spiritual clash against the backdrop of some very impressive battle scenes. Everywhere you look in this film there are splashes of beautiful colours and thousands of extras, thundering visuals that are only let down by the waning of the narrative towards the end. Any chance to watch the very great Tatsuya Nakadai in action is always worth the effort.
The Criterion Collection: #267