Daibutsu, Kamakura

Daibutsu, Kamakura
Daibutsu in Kamakura, June 2010. There were thousands of school kids visiting that day. It was still great fun.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bushido: The Cruel Code of the Samurai

In this classic piece of Japanese samurai cinema, modern-day businessman Susumu (Kinnosuke Nakamura) ponders seven generations of his samurai family, their codes, traditions and history of stark violence, as he comes to terms with his own place in the lineage. Nakamura takes on multiple roles, portraying not only Susumu, but his succession of ancestors, stretching back through 350 years of Japanese feudal history.

Black and white film released in 1963

Wow, what a great and shocking movie. A true masterpiece of Japanese samurai film. A must, must see. The film begins in modern time when Susumu Iikuru visits his fiancé at the hospital after she attempted suicide. What brought his fiancé to attempt to kill herself causes Susumu to reflect on his unethical actions as a salaryman that led to this as well as reflect on the long and troubled history of his family. Susumu’s family history stretches back through seven generations of samurai who had to live by the strict code of Bushido. The movie moves through a different story for each generation and each story ends in some shocking manner, the story of Susumu's family member who must "serve" his lord being the most shocking of all (I won't give it away, you have to see it). Kinnosuke does an incredible job portraying each of the seven generations of his family. This is the first of only two Japanese films to win the Golden Bear award from the Berlin Film Festival, the second being Miyazaki's Spirited Away in 2002. In addition, Nakamura won the Japanese Best Actor award for his part in this film. What is also interesting is that when this film was released in the 60s, the concept of the Japanese salaryman devoting his life to the company like a true samurai was strong and this film was a direct criticism of that philosophy.


  1. That's one heck of a good review. I've got in in the movie cue,


  2. Thank you. Definitely should see this one.