The Twilight Samurai


(out of 5)

Original title:  Tasogare seibei

A nineteenth-century samurai guard in the employ of a local clan prince is teased for his straight-laced ways: his fellow retainers spend their evenings drinking, gambling and among loose women, while “Twilight” Seibei goes home to take care of his two daughters and aging, senile mother. Following the death of his wife he is overwhelmed with work and debt, but finds no end of solace in the love he feels for his family amid his misfortunes. Things get complicated when an old flame from his past shows up, ardent as ever, and trouble arrives at the exact same time: his prowess with a sword pits him against his lady love’s cruel ex-husband, and the outcome of this fight makes him known to others who would use his skills for dark purposes. This absolutely engrossing drama may have the word “samurai” in the title but don’t be too fooled; while it does have some exquisitely performed fight sequences, it’s more likely to please fans of Mizoguchi than Kurosawa or Inagaki. It plays out its absorbing tale of romance and duty with exceptional style and strength, and the performances are all perfection. Definitely the perfect rental for those who miss old-school Japanese cinema.

Eisei Gekijo, Hakuhodo, Nippon Shuppan Hanbai (Nippan) K.K., Nippon Television Network, Shochiku Company, Sumitomo Corporation

Japan, 2002

Directed by

Screenplay by Yoji Yamada, , based on the novels Tasogare Seibei, Chikkou Shiatsu, and Iwaibito Sukehachi by

Cinematography by

Produced by , ,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Academy Awards 2003

Berlin Film Festival 2003

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