Monday, April 25, 2016

Kagemusha (1980)

Cannes Film Festival 1980

Palme d'Or
Akira Kurosawa
Tied with All That Jazz (1979).

Twentieth Century-Fox Film
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
My rating: 2.5 stars out of 4

In medieval Japan, a thief with an uncanny resemblance to a warlord proves useful when the warlord is killed by a sniper while his army attacks a rival castle. He is used as a double to keep the warlord's death a secret and deceive their enemies. Spies suspect otherwise, but the thief's performance convinces them. Back home, the double manages to convince most of the household he is really the warlord, but problems arise with a rival during a council meeting about the ongoing wars.  He manages to improvise and is given command of the clan's forces. However, his real identity is revealed when he falls off a horse and he is driven out of the palace. The command of the clan is given to the rival for the climactic battle sequence. When it fails, the double makes a final act of loyalty. Kurosawa's film is spectacularly beautiful, but the characters fail to keep us engaged. The thief is too dumb to care about and his rivals to ambitious. The final battle scene is anticlimactic, with much of the action implied rather than shown. Somewhat of a disappointment.

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